Independent Bookstore Day!

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Book-Store-stockphoto

I love bookstores. I love the smell, the sound, the welcoming pace of bookstores.

Since I was a little kid, I’ve found joy and solace roaming among the stacks, pulling up a piece of floor or cushy chair, and exploring the magic of East Egg or The Land, deciding whether or not to make friends with Thomas Convenant or the Sandman and bring them home with me.

Back in the day, of course, every little town had a bookstore – or two. Independent and distinct, they offered classics and bestsellers, dictionaries and guides to local flora and fauna. They also reflected the personal tastes of their proprietors: some might be heavy on kids’ books, some on politics or contemporary fiction. And if you wanted that obscure new book your cousin Lily mentioned at Sunday dinner, out came Books in Print and an order would be graciously placed.

As a reader, this was heaven. As a writer, my appreciation has only grown.Boulder-Bookstore_Sam-Hall

The bookstore landscape has changed over the years. First, behemoths like Barnes & Noble and their late rival, Borders, moved in. They had space and inventory and remainder bins. You didn’t have to wait a week for that special order, a marketing edge in a culture that thrives on immediate gratification. Then came e-books and the leviathan of all leviathans, Amazon.

Loud and long, the literary pundits sounded the death knell of the independent bookstore. Fortunately, over the past couple of years communities of book lovers around the country are proving pundits wrong. There is a positive resurgence of independent bookstores. That, in itself, is cause for dancing in the street!

This Saturday, May 2, 2015, is Independent Bookstore Day. Bookstores and their patrons around the country are celebrating.

Linda and Phil in front of the Bennington Bookshop

Linda and Phil in front of the Bennington Bookshop

In my own backyard, the new owners of the Bennington Bookshop, Linda Foulsham and Phil Lewis, are presenting a full day of bibliocentric fun. There will be tales for the kids, evening wine and book chat for the grown-ups. My friend and fellow author, John Goodrich, will be talking about getting published, and I have the honor of giving a reading from my books and stories – about Dragons, of course.

If you are in the area, do stop by. If far away, check out your own local bookstore. Celebrate their uniqueness. Perhaps pick up a few literary friends and bring them home.

May 2 logoSchedule of Events on May 2:

10.30am: Story time for children with Chris Gingo
11.30am: Local author – Shawn MacKenzie
2.00pm: Local historian – Joe Hall
3.00pm: Local poet – Steve Haggerty
4.00pm: Local author – John Goodrich
5.00pm – 7.00pm: Cheese and wine and book conversations

book-face_EERcQ_59-400x498

Quest IV: Happy Earth Day – Answers, Please…

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Happy Earth Day.

Ok, I know that is an autumn photo, but the Dragons insisted. I hope everyone is able to get out and walk lightly through the world, eyes wide with wonder.

On a more personal note, I want to wish a happy third birthday to the kids, Carter, Poe, and Parker. They are wonders of the first order.P1010193

And now..drum roll, please…the answers to Sunday’s literary quiz are:

  1. Alice Walker                 (p) Temple of My Familiar
  2. Anne Rice                    (d) Cry to Heaven
  3. C.S. Lewis                     (k) Out of the Silent Planet
  4. Charles Dickens            (e) Dombey & Son
  5. F.Scott Fitzgerald          (b) Babylon Revisited
  6. Henry James                (q) Washington Square
  7. Herman Melville           (g) Mardi
  8. Jane Austen                 (i) Northanger Abbey
  9. Joseph Conrad              (j) Nostromo
  10. Leo Tolstoy                  (l) Resurrection
  11. Mark Twain                  (h) Mysterious Stranger
  12. Nathaniel Hawthorne     (m) Celestial Railroad
  13. Oscar Wilde                 (n) Reluctant Giant
  14. Rudyard Kipling            (c) Captains Courageous
  15. Virginia Woolf              (f) Jacob’s Room
  16. Willa Cather                (o) Song of the Lark
  17. William Faulkner          (a) A Fable

And for extra points:

Image3

How did everyone do?

Now go out and take that walk!

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Questing Beast IV: Minor Works of Major Authors

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Happy Sunday! I hope everyone’s taxes are paid and the little grey cells are well rested.

It has been a busy week and the next promises more of the same. Still, I do not wish to abandon my quixotic quest for cultural literacy entirely.

Today I offer something literary and fun. No need for math here!

dragon_dance__sfm__by_argodaemon-d7fhhec

Below you will find 17 well-known authors, all with prodigious bibliographies. You will also find the titles of 17 works, less well-known to some, yet each corresponding to an author. Simply match one from column A with one from column B. (Give yourselves bonus points if you can match the author to their picture above.)

AUTHORS:

  1. Alice Walker
  2. Anne Rice
  3. C. S. Lewis
  4. Charles Dickens
  5. F. Scott Fitzgerald
  6. Henry James
  7. Herman Melville
  8. Jane Austen
  9. Joseph Conrad
  10. Leo Tolstoy
  11. Mark Twain
  12. Nathaniel Hawthorne
  13. Oscar Wilde
  14. Rudyard Kipling
  15. Virginia Woolf
  16. Willa Cather
  17. William FaulknerP1010342

WORKS:

a)  A Fable
b)  Babylon Revisited
c)  Captains Courageous
d)  Cry to Heaven
e)  Dombey and Son
f)   Jacob’s Room
g)  Mardi: And a Voyage Thither
h)  The Mysterious Stranger
i)   Northanger Abbey
j)   Nostromo
k)  Out of the Silent Planet
l)   Resurrection
m) The Celestial Railroad
n)  The Reluctant Giant
o)  The Song of the Lark
p)  The Temple of My Familiar
q)  Washington Square

Waiting by Washington Square

Answers will be posted on Wednesday.

Have fun.

Questing Beast III: How did Everyone Do?

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I hope everyone had a delightful holiday weekend.

And I hope everyone breezed through the performing arts leg of our cultural literacy excursion.

Below are the answers, along with a few extra bits of information and visual aids, of course. To refresh your memories – goodness knows mine is shot! – the choices were:

A) Dance
B) Theatre
C) Music
D) Film

  1. Agnes de Mille             – A –  Founding member of ABT; “Rodeo,”…

    Agnes de Mille

    Agnes de Mille

  2. Alvin Ailey                   – A – Alvin Ailey Am. Dance Theatre; “Revelations,”…

    Alvin Ailey & Judith Jamison

    Alvin Ailey & Judith Jamison

  3. Bessie Smith               – C – Empress of the Blues

    Bessie Smith

    Bessie Smith

  4. Buffy Sainte-Marie       – C – Cree folksinger/songwriter

    Buffy Sainte-Marie

    Buffy Sainte-Marie

  5. Charles Mingus            – C – Jazz bassist
  6. David Gilmour             – C – Pink Floyd vocalist/guitarist

    David Gilmour

    David Gilmour

  7. Feodor Chaliapin          – C – Basso profundo; quintisential Boris Godunov
  8. François Truffaut          – D – auteur director of Jules et Jim400 Blows,...

    Truffaut

    Truffaut

  9. George Balanchine       – C – Choreographer, New York City Ballet
  10. George Roy Hill            – D – director, The Sting, Slaughterhouse-Five,…
  11. Harold Prince               – B – B’way director: West Side Story, Sweeney Todd,...

    Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim

    Hal Prince and Stephen Sondheim

  12. Jane Campion              – D – Director, The Piano, Bright Star….
  13. Jean Rosenthal            – B – Pioneer in lighting design

    Jean Rosenthal

    Jean Rosenthal

  14. José Limón                  – A – Modern dancer/choreographer
  15. Joseph Papp                 – B – Director/ producer; founder of The Public Theatre

    Joseph Papp

    Joseph Papp

  16. Julie Taymor                – B – Director/designer, The Lion King,…
  17. Katherine Dunham      – A – Dancer/choreographer/activist

    Katherine Dunham

    Katherine Dunham

  18. Lee Strasberg              – B – Actor/teacher, Actor’s Studio & the Group Theatre

    Lee Strasberg

    Lee Strasberg

  19. Louis Malle                  – D – Director, Pretty Baby, Lacombe Lucien,...
  20. Ma Rainey                   – C – Mother of the Blues

    Ma Rainey

    Ma Rainey

  21. Marie Petipa                – A – Russian prima ballerina
  22. Merce Cunningham     – A – Dancer/choreographer, M. Cunningham Dance Co.

    Merce Cunningham

    Merce Cunningham

  23. Michael Kidd                – A – B’way choreographer, Guys & Dolls, Finian’s Rainbow,…
  24. Milos Forman              – D – Director, Hair, Amadeus, One Flew…Cuckoo’s Nest,…
  25. Nadia Boulanger          – C – Classical composer/conductor/pianist/teacher

    Nadia Boulanger

    Nadia Boulanger

  26. Patti Smith                 – C – Punk-rock icon

    Patti Smith

    Patti Smith

  27. Pedro Almodovar         – D – Director, Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down, Volver, Talk to Her,…
  28. Peter Brook                 – B – British Director, Marat/Sade, The Mahabharata,…

    Peter Brook

    Peter Brook

  29. Philidor                       – C – Oboe virtuoso

    Philidor

    Philidor

  30. Ray Manzarek             – C – Keyboardist for The Doors
  31. Robert Altman            – D – Director, *M*A*S*H*, Nashville, Gosford Park,…

    Robert Altman

    Robert Altman

  32. Ruth St. Denis            – A – Modern-dance pioneer; Denishawn Dance School
  33. Santo Loquasto           – B – Stage design titan

    Santo Loquasto

    Santo Loquasto

  34. Savion Glover              – A – Tap dancer/choreographer

    Savion Glover

    Savion Glover

  35. Sergei Diaghilev          – A – Ballets Russes founder
  36. Susan Stroman           – B – B’way director/choreographer, The Producers,…
  37. Trevor Nunn               – B – Director, Royal Shakespeare Co., Cats, Les Miz,

    Trevor Nunn

    Trevor Nunn

  38. Tyrone Guthrie           – B – Director/founder, The Guthrie Theatre
  39. Werner Herzog            – D – New German Cinema director, Fitzcarraldo,…
    Werner Herzog & Bear

    Werner Herzog & Bear

     

  40. Yehudi Menuhin          – C – Violinist/conductor

Questing Beast III: The Performing Arts – Pounding the Cultural Boards

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this-machine-surrounds-hate-and-forces-it-to-surrender

Pete Seeger

Music, theatre, movies, dance – the performing arts intersect out lives daily. We turn on the radio, catch a matinee at the local Cineplex or on TV.

IMG_1092

The Globe Theatre

Live dance and theatre may elude many outside of metropolitan areas, but thank goodness for PBS and cable.

So…today I give you a list of 40 people. Some familiar, some less so. They are associated with

a) Dance
b) Theatre
c) Music
d) Film

g250477_u93918_Nureyev

Rudolph Nureyev

Mix, match, and have fun!

  1. Agnes de Mille
  2. Alvin Ailey
  3. Bessie Smith
  4. Buffy Sainte-Marie
  5. Charles Mingus
  6. David Gilmour
  7. Feodor Chaliapin
  8. Francois Truffaut
  9. George Balanchine
  10. George Roy Hill
  11. Harold Prince
  12. Jane Campion
  13. Jean Rosenthal
  14. Jose Limon
  15. Joseph Papp
  16. Julie Taymor
  17. Katherine Dunham
  18. Lee Strasberg
  19. Louis Malle
  20. Ma Rainey

    Charlie-Chaplin-Directing

    Charlie Chaplin behind the camera

  21. Marie Petipa
  22. Merce Cunningham
  23. Michael Kidd
  24. Milos Forman
  25. Nadia Boulanger
  26. Patti Smith
  27. Pedro Almodovar
  28. Peter Brook
  29. Philidor
  30. Ray Manzarek
  31. Robert Altman
  32. Ruth St. Denis
  33. Santo Loquasto
  34. Savion Glover
  35. Sergei Diaghilev
  36. Susan Stroman
  37. Trevor Nunn
  38. Tyrone Guthrie
  39. Werner Herzog
  40. Yehudi Menuhin

Since many of us are in the midst of chocolate bunny/matzo frenzy, I wish one and all happy holidays and will post the answers on Tuesday.

9c60db8d52bb5566284086a45891eb44

Questing Beast II: Literary Answers….

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Into April and still frosty here in the northeast. I think the weather gods are taking Mark Twain’s words too much to heart and passing the buck to their subordinates.

I reverently believe that the maker who made us all makes everything in New England, but the weather. I don’t know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the weather-clerks factory who experiment and learn how, in
New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don’t get it.

But all that doesn’t keep me from providing the answers to Tuesday’s literary quiz.

Group I:

  1.  Samuel Beckett               …h) Waiting for Godot
  2. John Irving                       …d) The Hotel New Hampshire
  3. Lillian Hellman                  …f) Little Foxes
  4. Stephen R. Donaldson      …j) Chronicles of Thomas Covenant
  5. Virginia Woolf                   …g) To the Lighthouse
  6. Henry James                     …i) The Europeans
  7. Anton Chekhov                …a) The Seagull
  8. Richard Adams                 …b) Watership Down
  9. Alice Walker                     …c) The Color Purple
  10. E.M.Forster                       …e) Howards End

Samuel-Beckett-001

Samuel Beckett

Group II: 

  1. Ursula K. Le Guin           …c) The Lathe of Heaven
  2. Edward Albee                 …e) A Delicate Balance
  3. Samuel Butler                …g) Erewhon
  4. Wendy Wasserstein      …a) The Sisters Rosensweig
  5. Carson McCullers          …h) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  6. Bertolt Brecht                …b) Mother Courage & Her Children
  7. Edith Wharton                …j) House of Mirth
  8. George Eliot                    …i) The Mill on the Floss
  9. D.H.Lawrence                …d) The Rainbow
  10. Luigi Pirandello              …f) Six Characters in Search of an Author

imagenursula16rs0[1]         Ursula K. Le Guin

Group III:

  1. Thomas Middleton           …f) Women Beware Women
  2. Mikhail Bulgakov             …i) The Master & the Margarita
  3. Murasaki Shikibu           …h) The Tale of Genji
  4. Jean Anouilh                 … d) Thieves’ Carnival
  5. Flannery O’Connor       … b) Everything That Rises Must Converge
  6. Michael Ondaatje           …a) The English Patient
  7. Brendan Behan              …c) The Hostage
  8. Isabel Allende                …j) House of the Spirits
  9. Jean Racine                   …e) Phèdre
  10. James Baldwin              …g) Giovanni’s Room

Thomas_Middleton_1887_etching        Thomas Middleton

How did everyone do?

Now, tomorrow I will be cooking for our seder, so nothing new until Saturday. Then we will begin questing through the forest of the performing arts – dance, music, theatre, and film. (I know, film falls into a grey area – part visual, part performance – but I relish the grey.)

Happy Pesach.

Questing Beast II: Playing in a Sea of Letters

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As I watch it snow on the penultimate day of March (!), I leave the visual arts for the literary.gold fountain pen for sontag series

Most of us know books, even love books. And some of us love them with an unruly passion. When I was growing up, I explored shelf after shelf, floor to ceiling, of novels and histories, poetry and plays. One of my favorite places in the world was the used-book store where unimagined treasures could be found. All of this gave me a thirst for literature. It also gives me an ocean of opera and authors upon which to draw for today.

This, naturally, presents its own set of problems. So many possibilities! Who to choose, who to omit. (This is where subjectivity runs amok. It is, after all, my list. :-) )

When I first pulled together today’s quiz, I was informed by someone who also loves books that it was way too hard. Oops.

Time to rethink, to break things down and be more inclusive.

So…below are 30 names and 30 titles. They are divided into 3 sections – Easy, Medium, and Hard(er) – a little something for everyone.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to match novelist/playwright with his/her work.  Samuel-Beckett-001

  1. Samuel Beckett                                  a) The Seagull
  2. John Irving                                         b) Watership Down
  3. Lillian Hellman                                    c) The Color Purple
  4. Stephen R. Donaldson                         d) The Hotel New Hampshire
  5. Virginia Woolf                                     e) Howards End
  6. Henry James                                       f) Little Foxes
  7. Anton Chekhov                                   g) To the Lighthouse
  8. Richard Adams                                   h) Waiting for Godot
  9. Alice Walker                                        i) The Europeans
  10. E.M.Forster                                         j) Chronicles of Thomas Covenant

imagenursula16rs0[1]

  1. Ursula K. Le Guin                     a) The Sisters Rosensweig
  2. Edward Albee                           b) Mother Courage & Her Children
  3. Samuel Butler                          c) The Lathe of Heaven
  4. Wendy Wasserstein                 d) The Rainbow
  5. Carson McCullers                     e) A Delicate Balance
  6. Bertolt Brecht                          f) Six Characters in Search of an Author
  7. Edith Wharton                         g) Erewhon
  8. George Eliot                            h) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
  9. D.H.Lawrence                          i) The Mill on the Floss
  10. Luigi Pirandello                        j) House of Mirth

Thomas_Middleton_1887_etching

  1. Thomas Middleton                     a) The English Patient
  2. Mikhail Bulgakov                      b) Everything That Rises Must Converge
  3. Murasaki Shikibu                      c) The Hostage
  4. Jean Anouilh                             d) Thieves’ Carnival
  5. Flannery O’Connor                    e) Phèdre
  6. Michael Ondaatje                      f) Women Beware Women
  7. Brendan Behan                         g) Giovanni’s Room
  8. Isabel Allende                           h) The Tale of Genji
  9. Jean Racine                              i) The Master & the Margarita
  10. James Baldwin                          j) House of the Spirits

Have fun. (And give yourself an extra point if you can name the authors pictured.) I’ll post the answers in a couple of days.

And the Answers Are….

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So, how did everyone do with our first trip to the cultural literacy well?

Here, for the curious – and with visual aids – are the answers to Saturday’s 25.

  1. Francis Bacon – painter

    Bacon - Figure with meat

    Figure with Meat

  2. Jean-Michel Basquiat – painter Basquiat
  3. Rosa Bonheur – painter

    bonheur- the horse-fair-

    The Horse Fair

  4. Louise Bourgeois – sculptor

    Crouching spider

    Crouching spider

  5. Matthew Brady – photographer

    Portrait of Frederick Douglass

    Portrait of Frederick Douglass

  6. Julia Cameron – photographer

    Portrait of Charles Darwin

    Portrait of Charles Darwin

  7. Ernest Crichlow – painterearnest Crichlow
  8. Jacques-Louis David – painter

    Marat

    Marat

  9. Walter Gropius – architect

    Gropius house

    Gropius house

  10. Inigo Jones – architect

    Banqueting House - Whitehall

    Banqueting House – Whitehall

  11. Shoji Hamada – potterhamada
  12. Louis Kahn – architect

    Kimbell Art Museum

    Kimbell Art Museum

  13. Wassily Kandinsky – painterkandinsky
  14. Le Corbusier – architectle corbusier
  15. Fernand Leger – painter

    Three Women

    Three Women

  16. Pierre L’Enfant – architect

    L'Enfant plan for Washington, D.C.

    L’Enfant plan for Washington, D.C.

  17. Roy Lichtenstein – painterlichtenstein
  18. Jacque Lipchitz -sculptor

    Mother and Child

    Mother and Child

  19. Warren MacKenzie – potterWarren_MacKenzie_Platter_wvertical_marks_1052_212
  20. Joan Miro – painter

    Figures and Dog in Front of the Sun

    Figures and Dog in Front of the Sun

  21. Henry Moore – sculptor

    Reclining Figure

    Reclining Figure

  22. Robert Motherwell – painter

    Elegy 57

    Elegy 57

  23. I.M. Pei – architectim pei
  24. Henri Rousseau – painter

    Fight between a Tiger and a Buffalo

    Fight between a Tiger and a Buffalo

  25. J.M.Turner – painter
    Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps

    Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps

    Tomorrow: A little literature. Should be a Snap.

The Questing Beast: Cultural Literacy

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Yesterday, in heart-wrenchingly depressing fashion, it was brought to my attention that Americans are rapidly descending into a morass of cultural illiteracy. The systematic elimination of arts from public school curricula, the emphasis on preparing young people for a job rather than a life in college, all seem to be leading us to generations of uncurious individuals. Even with the world at our Internet-connected fingertips, the basic level of knowledge about our world is melting away. Appalling!

510

Persistence of Memory – Salvador Dali

 

I am not talking about our individual blindspots – we all have those. I, for example, am noticeably – some might say egregiously – ill-informed about contemporary music and sports. No, I am talking about a basic body of information about our cultural heritage – arts, history, literature, science – that rounds us out, sparks our curiosity, and helps us grow as human beings.

The Desperate Man - Self-portrait. Gustave Courbet

The Desperate Man – Self-portrait. Gustave Courbet

As I was pounding my head against my desk over our increasing provincialism, I was reminded of something from my childhood. Something which seems worth resurrecting here, in this brave new digital world.

Pieta - Michelangelo

Pieta – Michelangelo

Fifty-plus years ago, when I was just a kid, my father was a professor in the Art Department of the University of Minnesota. Twice every term, beginning and end, he would give his students a list of 100 well-known artists and ask them to identify their field – painting, sculpture, architecture, etc. Some students did well, others not so much. That was to be expected. Even though he would pre-test the list with my sister and me to be sure it was fair, this was back in the day when state universities were still open to just about everyone and art courses had an errant reputation for being “gut” courses. Still it was a fun way to gauge what people knew coming in and, by term’s end, encouraging to note that everyone who was paying attention did much better the second round.

Jackson Pollock - 1948

Jackson Pollock – 1948

In that spirit, for your fun and erudition and in hopes of sparking your intellectual curiosity, I am, over the next few weeks, offering my own lists, starting with visual arts, moving to literature, performing arts, and possibly even history.

Today I offer 25 names. Are they either:

A) Painters

B) Sculptors

C) Photographers

D) Architects

E) Potters/Ceramists

Monday, the answers and 25 new names. Play along. Have fun.

  1. Francis Bacon
  2. Jean-Michel Basquiat
  3. Rosa Bonheur
  4. Louise Bourgeois
  5. Matthew Brady
  6. Julia Cameron
  7. Ernest Crichlow
  8. Jacques-Louis David
  9. Walter Gropius
  10. Inigo Jones
  11. Shoji Hamada
  12. Louis Kahn
  13. Wassily Kandinsky
  14. Le Corbusier
  15. Fernand Leger
  16. Pierre L’Enfant
  17. Roy Lichtenstein
  18. Jacque Lipchitz
  19. Warren MacKenzie
  20. Joan Miro
  21. Henry Moore
  22. Robert Motherwell
  23. I.M. Pei
  24. Henri Rousseau
  25. J.M.Turner

 

 

 

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