a weblog for readers and writers

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lit, Art, and Music Overcome Riots

Baltimore’s been plagued by rioting and chaos for a few days. But Baltimore is more about music and art and literature than riots and looting and destruction.

Today, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is performing a free concert outside the Meyerhoff in support of the community, just blocks from where the worst of the rioting occurred.


A March for Justice and Love is organized for this afternoon beginning at 2, starting at the intersection of North Ave. and Charles street.


Although the Orioles game will be played, the stadium is closed in a major league first. But Baltimore’s downtown libraries remain open to the public.


The CityLit Project’s board of directors and the Enoch Pratt Free Library have announced that the CityLit Festival will go on, scheduled for this Saturday, May 2 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Pratt Library, 400 Cathedral Street, downtown.

We hope, in its own small way, that the gathering of Baltimore’s literary artists and lovers of literature can be part of not only the healing process, but of the process toward thoughtful understanding and meaningful solutions."

Baltimore is the “city” part of CityLit, and we love her.”

I’ll be among the authors joining the CityLit Festival this year, along with John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, Steve Berry, Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka, Jason Tinney, Lalita Noronha, A.C. Arthur, and a host of others.

Get the full itinerary and learn more about the CityLit Festival at www.citylitproject.org.

This is our chance to B’More.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Scotland Revisited

This time last year, I was hunting for the Loch Ness, eating the world’s best fish & chips in Glasgow, strolling along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, and partaking in scotch flights in Sterling. Enjoy some of our highlights in our slideshow—set to Scottish music!

Our trip started with a nice day revisiting some of our favorite places in London: Westminster, the Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, National Gallery, Portrait Gallery, and a taste of Fish and Chips.

We flew into Scotland early in the morning and didn’t waste any time, stowing our bags at the train station and exploring Edinburgh’s Royal Mile—filled with medieval stone buildings that decent for a mile from Edinburgh Castle (on an extinct volcano) and Holyrood Palace (the Queen’s Scottish residence). The Royal Mile ended up being our go-to place during our time in Edinburgh, where we visited a number of museums, galleries, and pubs. Meat and ale pies and fish and chips were favorites.

In Glasgow, we enjoyed touring the campus of University of Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Museum, and Park, the Mackintosh House, Hunterian Museum and Gallery, George Square, St. Mungro Museum, and Glasgow Cathedral. Neeps and Tatties were good in Glasgow, and so was the fish and chips.

Stirling’s medieval old-town was refreshing, not quite as crowded as the larger cities. The castle and medieval church were interesting, as were the pubs and restaurants. We enjoyed a deluxe Scotch flight (about 20 of them) at the Curly Coo—voted best whisky bar in the world two years in a row. In Stirling, we tried haggis, and fish and chips.

Our voyage through the highlands brought us some of the most diverse and dramatic scenery we’ve seen in one day’s time. Mountains and valleys, mist and sun, green moss and desert wastelands. Highlights included Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Rannoch Moor, Ben Nevis, and Loch Ness.

When we took our voyage into Loch Ness, it began raining. The water was choppy and the horizon was misty. We think we spotted Nessie, but it was hard to tell in the rain and mist. We debated our findings over fish and chips.

We searched Rosslyn Chapel outside Edinburgh, but didn’t find anything not already uncovered in Da Vinci Code.

We ended our Scottish adventures where they began, along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, where we had one last pub meal of meat pies, fish and chips, and ale and scotch.

People have already asked: which city had the best fish and chips and which was our favorite scotch?

We may need to return for another taste test. Get your own taste of Scotland by enjoying our slideshow!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Still Exploring China

This time last year, we had just returned from our two-week adventure in China. Although a year has passed and we’ve been to other countries since, that visit still looms over us.
For one thing, I’m writing a novel set in many of the places we explored while there. For another, I’ve written a series of travel stories. Look for both to be published later this year.
Besides the writing, what did we do during our weeks exploring China? 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.
My China-based travel stories are written, but I’m waiting to submit them after I finish my novel set in these and other exotic locations.
Dead and Buried is being published by Blue Heron Book Works later in 2015.

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