Tuesday, June 28, 2005


I never should have put a stat counter on this site. I see just how much it doesn't get read. And I get no feedback unless I prod and bully my friends. Is this normal? Is this a problem with a lot of people? Is there so much out there that what I do gets lost in the noise? Do all the well-written literary blogs offer enough that I don't make a dent?

I don't get feedback, so I have no idea if the few people who read this even like it.

And all the good literary blogs link to each other. And all the really interesting news I stumble across is already yesterday's news. Is it a conspiracy? Someone stop me before I get paranoid!

Okay. I got that off my chest. Whew. Go back to your lives...

In some news that's actually worth mentioning: poetry can save your life. Or at least it can in novels. Are there actual instances of this, I wonder?

And in baseball news... Johnny Damon reads and writes, too. Heh.

And a short poetry interlude... brought to you by Samuel Menashe. Lovely.

Monday, June 27, 2005

No thank you

I have an extensive list of books I want to read before I die (and no, I'm not going to go into them here), and even more I can probably go without reading.

Now, I love science fiction, but it is so easy to find bad sci-fi, that I choose my books with care. The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks isn't set to be released until tomorrow, and I admit I was a little intrigued by it. I suppose I shouldn't have read how they were going to market it.

Interest in "The Traveler" can be traced partly to its editor, Jason Kaufman, who edited "The Da Vinci Code"...

Uh oh.

And speaking of books I am not going to run out and buy...

Robert James Waller has a new novel.

"He bent her like the wind bends sienna wheat in a high plains summer," Waller overwrites, "and eventually came to know that loving Susanna Benteen took you as near to Truth as you can get without dying."

Why is it men can get away with writing like this and not have to have Fabio on the cover?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


More randomness in one place:

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I'm just glad they're still writing things like this...

If I could be sure it was there, I'd rush out to my favorite local bookstore and buy The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel by Rebecca Goldstein.

David Kipen reviews the book in the SF Chronicle, and it is filled with the standard non-mathematician fears of the complicated world of theorems and number theory. (He even has a great parenthetical apology stating, "and any mathematicians out there are now respectfully beseeched to leave the room, in the justifiable fear that any paraphrase will likely contain more factual errors than it does words.") But Kipen goes on to state that the book is, "a deeply confounding book -- brainbustingly hard in some stretches, beguilingly empathic in others."

Nothing like that sort of statement to really get me wanting to read.

I'll be back with a review.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Better than spelling bees

Why didn't they have National Poetry Recitation Contests when I was in school?

"More than four thousand students at ten Washington-area schools, and thousands more at approximately forty schools in Chicago, participated in the program. The events featured several rounds of competition, in which students recited poems and were judged on stage presence, inflection, accuracy, and how well they appeared to understand the meaning of the poem. "

Very cool. I hope this increases the number of readers of poetry. There are so many good poems out there...

Friday, June 17, 2005

May the force be with all of us

An interesting piece in today's NY Times by Neal Stephenson (Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, etc.) states about Star Wars:

"Twenty-eight years later, the vast corpus of "Star Wars" movies, novels, games and merchandise still has much to say about geeks - and also about a society that loves them, hates them and depends upon them."

Now, it's no secret that I am attracted to geeks and to the geek side of non-geeks.

"To geek out on something means to immerse yourself in its details to an extent that is distinctly abnormal - and to have a good time doing it."

Stephenson makes a good analogy between the geeks of our society and the fading Jedi knights:

"Scientists and technologists have the same uneasy status in our society as the Jedi in the Galactic Republic. They are scorned by the cultural left and the cultural right, and young people avoid science and math classes in hordes. The tedious particulars of keeping ourselves alive, comfortable and free are being taken offline to countries where people are happy to sweat the details, as long as we have some foreign exchange left to send their way. Nothing is more seductive than to think that we, like the Jedi, could be masters of the most advanced technologies while living simple lives: to have a geek standard of living and spend our copious leisure time vegging out. "

Go hug a geek this weekend. Or, better yet, explore your geek side.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


This post is late because of a Bloomsday celebration. I raised a Guinness to James Joyce.

Or you can follow another's celebration as they walk through Dublin.

I am off to put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Some aimless thoughts...

Just a few random mentions:

  • This morning, I heard an interview with Nick Hornby where he mentioned his regular column, "Stuff I've Been Reading," in the The Believer. From what I've perused on the website, it makes me want to subscribe. (Though, frankly, not what I've read in Hornby's column...)
  • And here's an interesting article on baseball and astrology. Nice to know that Libras make up more Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning writers than any other sign. (Note: I found this article when I Googled, misspelling Hornby's name, "Hornsby Believer Column" Heh.)
  • Whoa. A book of poetry wins book of the year?? Cool.
  • And I'm sure some people close to me will wonder if it's possible to shut down certain parts of my brain...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A concert to remember

I don’t like to go to concerts, as a rule. Usually they are too loud, and no band or singer can ever sound as good as they do in a studio recording. I have been to a handful of concerts, as Reno attracts a good number of big-name acts (especially for such a small town). I’ve seen Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Hornsby, Seal, Kenny Loggins, and a few others. Good concerts, but I’d often rather stay home and listen to recordings.

Last Saturday night was a glorious exception. Holly Cole and her ensemble were amazing.

If any of you don’t know about Holly Cole, you should. She’s a Canadian singer who’s been doing jazz standards and pop covers for at least 15 years.

I didn’t find out about the concert until the Wednesday before (it was on a Saturday night), and I called to see if there were any tickets available. Not only were there good seats, but the price was less than half of what I’d paid to see much glitzier, less interesting acts. I got third row center seats for $20 each.

Saturday after a nice sushi feed, my husband and I drove out to Fallon (about an hour’s drive) to the theatre. The venue was a two-story old brick building that had once been a school. We went inside, not quite sure if we’d come to the right place. The theatre was small and there were only a handful of people there. Fifteen minutes before the concert, and it was nearly empty. I was astounded.

The theatre did fill up, but not completely. But the smallish crowd in a remote desert spot didn’t keep Holly Cole and her ensemble from giving one of the best shows I’ve seen or heard. My husband, a musician, was equally impressed.

If you get a chance to go see her, do it. If not, I highly recommend getting a CD or three. I like “Temptation” where she covers Tom Waits songs, but all her stuff is amazing.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A shameless plug for my town

The New York Times had a nice article about Reno in this weekend's travel mag. Check it out. And come visit. Especially in July. And in September.

Nice place to live, too.

Friday, June 10, 2005

For you non-sports fans...

Now, it's no secret that I'm a baseball fan, but most of my friends do not like or even get sports.

This is for you non-sports fans: The Complexities of Human Sport.

You know who you are.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

My next job

When I was dating a nice white boy in high school in small town USA (very very small town), I will never forget my first hint that maybe his parents weren't prepared to deal with a foreign sort, even just a foreign-looking sort. Either that, or his dad had a sense of humor I failed to appreciate...

We'd just finished a good deep-fried supper of Texas-style food and there was an awkward silence at the table. His father broke the silence by saying, "I'd offer you a cookie, but you'd crumble it up trying to find the fortune."

There really is nothing like the tension in the air caused by an attempt at being funny and failing.

So, in a clumsy segue, I did find the perfect writing job. I hope it's not too stereotypical.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bits of Shakespeare news

So, it appears that one of my favorite authors is writing a biography of Shakespeare. Quote from the English Heritage interview with Bill Bryson:

What are you working on next?

I'm doing two biographies - one on me, one on William Shakespeare.

I am not much on reading about Shakespeare as I am reading his actual works, but I am currently enjoying Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, despite the many reviews I've read stating it isn't very accurate, even for speculative work. And I won't miss Bryson's when it comes out, but just because I love the way he writes.

And the critics are not too keen on The Stratford Festival's mixture of As You Like It set in the US 1960s and a musical score featuring the Barenaked Ladies. Maybe you should go see another production.

A school in Utah has decided to cancel all Shakespeare courses. Apparently it "doesn't sufficiently advance the state core curriculum." And why do courses have to "boost students' chances for jobs, college, human development or improved test scores," to be worthwhile? And who decides what boosts human development? Apparently power-lifting doesn't either.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The quest continues...

And I'm glad I'm not the only one who seems to have trouble coming up with good book recommendations.

I think I'll stick with reading other blogs for now.

And on a side note, I'd be happy to take any recommendations you may have. If I don't know you, make sure you back up your recommendation with a good reason.

Thanks in advance.

Ten things I meant to do

I regularly read the blog of Terry Teachout, arts critic for the Wall Street Journal. He is a wonderful writer and is good at popping the clutch when my brain needs a push start.

He recently wrote about "Ten Things I Always Meant to Do." And I have since seen several posts passing along the meme.

Most folks will read these and come up with their own lists. Some just musing, some writing them down. It reminds me of a poem I wrote a few months ago that actually contains things I mean to do. (Though, frankly, most of them are things I would like to do, but never will.)

Things to Do Before I Die

  • Forgive the blond poet
    who broke my heart with his pen
  • Sing torch songs in a smoky bar
  • Own a python
  • Have an affair in London
    with a British man who is much much too young for me
  • React badly to insinuations
  • Learn to rhumba
  • Tell my mother what happened to that bottle of vodka
    on our senior trip
  • Find my double
  • Shave my head
  • Wear a strapless ball gown
    with long satin gloves
  • Sweat beneath a Tahitian moon
    wearing colors Gauguin would paint
  • Shed angst in silk narrative poems
  • Learn how to tell a quark’s flavor
  • Cultivate joy

7 February 2005

Later, perhaps, I'll come up with an actual list of things I mean to do.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A sense of wonder

The Washington Post has a wonderful piece about Dan Rockmore, author of Stalking the Riemann Hypothesis : The Quest to Find the Hidden Law of Prime Numbers.

The author of the piece, Linton Weeks, spend a day talking with Rockmore about mathematics in general. About how mathematicians see the world.

Now, I am not necessarily a bona fide mathematician, but I have a deep love for it and often read books and articles about math to renew my sense of wonder. Weeks writes about seeing the city with Rockmore:

On this clear blue, purified spring day, Dan takes a postprandial stroll and Manhattan becomes a three-dimensional chalkboard. Between the geometry of architecture and calculus of urban life, you begin to see the sidewalks and the skyscrapers through a mathematician's eyes and somewhere along the way, theoretical math becomes, well, more concrete.

A sunflower at a florist's shop helps illustrate Fibonacci numbers. A stack of tomatoes at a greengrocer suggests Kepler's Conjecture. A stand of seven trees leads back around to a conversation about the Riemann Hypothesis. It's like taking a tour of a familiar place with a foreign-tongued guide.

I remember taking an undergraduate course in multi-variable calculus and struggling with a proof with a small group of classmates. We were in the library, in a private study room, and trying to ascertain the properties of a certain equation. One classmate expressed his frustration with how the equation could map something from 6 to 5 dimensions. Suddenly, one young man leapt from his chair and pointed at the window. He saw that his reflection in the window was a mapping from 3 to 2 dimensions. Using this crude visualization, we were all able to solve the proof and determine the properties of the equation.

I relate this small incident for two reasons. First, the sense of discovery was something I'd never felt before, and rarely since, then. It was where I developed my lifelong search for the sense of the mysterious, for wonder. Second, the group of students was, in my estimation, a microcosm of what I consider mathematical-minded people. One was a musician, one a sculptor, two were programmers, and I was working on my degree in business. Our ages ranged from 19 to 37 and we remained close friends through the next couple of years.


An aside: Weeks, in his article, tries to describe Rockmore, "He's not one of those fluky-flakey number nerds you read about." I took a little offense to that since I've rarely met a mathematician who could be remotely described as a "fluky-flakey number nerd." Nor have I read about many.