a weblog for readers and writers

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Nessie Lies Over the Ocean

The Week Magazine: Concern is growing in Scotland over the fate of the fabled Loch Ness monster, which hasn’t been spotted in 18 months—the longest stretch without a sighting in 90 years. 

“It’s very upsetting news,” said accountant and Nessie expert Gary Campbell. Campbell, who has collected 1,036 reports of sightings, including some dating back 1,500 years, thinks the prehistoric creature is still alive. “I’m convinced that Nessie has just taken some time out,” he said, “and will be back with a vengeance this year.”

Me: I’ve got this. I’m off to Scotland today. Spending some time in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, the Highlands, and—yes—Loch Ness. I’ll find Nessie. If you don’t hear from me in the next couple weeks and I don’t show up at the next Lit & Art event, better stark poking around Loch Ness.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Off to the Highlands

I’ve been feeling a wee bit peckish for some tatties and neeps, so I’m off to Scotland.

We’re stopping for a day in London along the way and plan to stroll the Thames, listen to the chimes of Big Ben at Parliament, pay a visit to Buckingham Palace, and peek into the National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, and Tate before taking the tube from Piccadilly Circus back to Heathrow.

In Scotland, we’ll spend most of our time in Edinburgh and Glasgow. We look forward to a stroll along the Royal Mile, visit to Edinburgh Castle and Hollyrood Palace and all of the wonderful museums and sites between the two. We’ll explore the works of Mackintosh in Glasgow and take in the religious relics and modern art.

Sterling Castle and Rosslyn Chapel are also on the list, as well as an exploration of Loch Lomond, the highlands, and Loch Ness. Fingers crossed that we’ll spot Nessie.

Hold the haggis, heavy on the scotch, and let the bagpipes hum.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rafael Alvarez Joins Lit and Art

Join us on April 27 and discover “the best excuse to get lit on a Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.”
Well into its seventh year, the Lit & Art reading series showcases local, national, and international talent—fiction, poetry, non-fiction, memoir, original art, live music—all topped off with wine, refreshments, and conversation.
Featured readers on April 27 include Rafael Alvarez, Ann Bracken, Barbara Diehl, Toby Devens, and Danuta Kosk-Kosicka. Live Pop-Grass music of Jacob Panic, original art by Manzar, and wine and refreshments will fill out the program.
Hosted by Baltimore authors Nitin Jagdish and Eric D. Goodman, the event takes place at The Watermark Gallery at 100 S. Charles Street, across from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in the BOA building, and takes place from 2 to 5 p.m. Bring a bit of your own work to share at open mic!
Learn more about the Watermark Gallery at the online gallery.

Find out more about Lit and Art and the featured talent at the Lit and Art Facebook Page.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 11, 2014

National Book Award Winner Headlines 11th Annual CityLit Festival

This Saturday, April 12, get ready to celebrate the Baltimore literary arts in a big way! The 11th annual CityLit Festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Enoch Pratt Free Library Central Library, 400 Cathedral Street in downtown Baltimore.

This year, the headliner is the 2013 National Book Award winner James McBride. Past participant in the festival have been Edward P. Jones, Junot Diaz, Stanley Plumly, and George Saunders.

The event will include a multitude of programs from readings to lectures, and the literary market place will be in the main hall all day.

I’ll be there with copies of Tracks: A Novel in stories, Flightless Goose, and information about the next Lit & Art at the Watermark.

Learn more at the CityLit Festival Facebook Page!

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

We Dug China

We enjoyed a wonderful two weeks exploring China. What did we dig most about the ancient nation? Figuring out where to begin can be as complicated as a Chinese puzzle box.

We began our time in Beijing. We strolled Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world. We explored the Forbidden City and visited the Imperial Palace. We danced and sang with the locals at the Summer Palace. A rickshaw ride through the Hutong brought us face to face with world-renowned Cricket Leo and lunch with his family (of people, birds, animals, and insects). And Beijing Zoo gave us a glimpse of the giant pandas.

Then we explored the original capitol of unified China, Xi’an, and it’s 5,000 year history. We marveled at the thick, 9-mile city wall, climbed the Drum and Bell towers, rang the prayer bell at Wild Goose Pagoda in Jianfu Temple, and took a crazy motorized rickshaw ride through heavy traffic going the wrong way into bus-filled round-a-bouts.

The Terra Cotta Army protecting China’s first emperor was impressive, being one of the greatest archeological finds of the 20th century. We even met one of the four peasants who discovered the warriors while digging a well.

Suzhou, the Venice of the East, saw us cruising along canals villages and admiring stone bridges and trees that touched the surface of the water. We walked ancient streets and took in the beautiful Lingering Garden. We even visited a farmer’s market with all sorts of livestock, from frogs and snakes to fish and goose. And we met a winemaker and sampled the rice wine of his 100-year old winery.

In Hangzhou, we cruised the West Lake, admired the Su Causeway and waterlogged pillars, and enjoyed some time at a tea plantation where we picked and tasted our own Longjing tea, watch it roasted in hot woks, and enjoyed a tea ceremony with the dragon-well tea so exclusive that it was once made only for the Emperor.

Shanghai surprises rounded out our trip with a skyline so amazing that it looked like something out of a futuristic movie. At the river, you could see the old European buildings at the Bund on one side, and the Pearl tower and futuristic skyscrapers in Pudong on the other. A ceremony was going on when we visited the Jade Buddha Temple. We hovered on the MagLev, climbed the JinMao Tower to stand next to the partially completed “second tallest building in the world,” explored Yu Gardens and Bazaar, explored the twisted side streets of the French Concession, enjoyed the Shanghai Museum, and even watched an ERA performance of Chinese acrobats.

What more did we do? A lot. We walked the Great Wall, one of the seven manmade wonders of the world. We visited a freshwater pearl factory, jade museum, silk factory, silk embroidery institute, Imperial Pharmacy of traditional Chinese medicine, and enjoyed lectures from experts on all of these.

There’s so much more we dug about China. But that will have to wait for the travel stories.