Take something to write on. Paper is good. In a pinch, pieces of wood or your arm will do.

index

All ten here. My favorite:

7. You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there’s no free lunch. Writing is work. It’s also gambling. You don’t get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you’re on your own. ­Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don’t whine.

[bwo Brain Pickings]


What dragon on the spine?

I was down at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore yesterday, signing the next load of Silk and Song, and Julie said how much she liked the dragon on the spine. I said what dragon on the spine?

dragon on spine

This dragon on the spine!

No one has ever built me a book like this before so it never occurred to me to remove the cover and look at what might be on the actual book. My mistake.

Although the cover is gorgeous, too, like this gold leaf image of North Wind on the cover spine.

North Wind on spine

Not quite all of these books are sold yet.

Dana w:S&S

But all of them are signed.

S&S signed

Click here to order a signed copy today for yourself
or for that special reader in your life.
It would make a great Christmas gift. She whispered seductively…

“Hey, are you the plane people?”

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Okay, let me give the consumer warning up front–do not attempt to read this book without a box of Kleenex on standby. There. Got it? Good.

I saw Come From Away in NYC last month, the musical about the 38 planes that were diverted to Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11, and I immediately googled to see if there was a book about it. There is, this one, although it’s missing some of the stories the playwrights found in their series of interviews on which they based the play (in particular the story of Captain Beverley Bass who is mentioned only in passing here. Bet DeFede was mad at himself for missing that.). It is still an amazing story, and you end it hoping that if your community is ever called upon in such a crisis that you and it will respond even half as well.

The gist is this: The US instituted a full ground stop after the 9/11 attacks and refused to let any aircraft into the U.S. This meant that literally hundreds of airplanes already en route have to land somewhere else. Thirty-eight aircraft landed in Gander with almost 7,000 people from 97 countries on board. Gander has a population of 10,000, and it sounds like every single citizen, along with the people of all the surrounding, much smaller towns as well, threw open the doors to the strandees.

When I say doors I mean not only the emergency shelters put together at local churches and Salvation Army buildings and schools, I mean their own homes. The “plane people,” as they were called by the locals (“Hey, are you the plane people?” Ganderites would shout out from their cars, and would immediately offer the walkers a ride to wherever they were going, Walmart, the pub, the Arrow Air memorial, which image is on the cover of this book) were offered the use of showers and shelters and beds and the kids got toys and the ones with birthdays while they were on the ground got parties and presents. Schools in every community were shut down so the plane people could use the showers and the kitchens and the computers and phones to call and email loved ones, most of whom had no idea where they were. Of course, some of the plane people didn’t know where they were, either.

A volunteer had taped a large map of the world to the wall and with a crude red marker drew an arrow pointing to Gander. YOU ARE HERE, the volunteer wrote on the map. Exhausted passengers would stop and stare at the map for several minutes, trying to regain their bearings.

It wasn’t just the people, it was the businesses, too.

The local Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway sandwich outlets, as well as the local pizza joints, sent carloads of food to the airport on Tuesday and Wednesday to help feed the passengers stranded on the planes…Newtel, the telephone company for Newfoundland, set u a long bank of tables on the sidewalk in front of its offices and filled them with telephones so passengers could make free long-distance phone calls to their families…Rogers Communications, which provides cable-television service to Gander and the surrounding area, made sure every shelter had cable television so the passengers could watch CNN and the other round-the-clock news stations.

Not forgetting that the local hockey rink did duty as a walk-in refrigerator. The local pharmacies banded together and

In the first twenty-four hours…filled more than a thousand prescriptions. All at no cost to the passengers.

More stories like this one are on every single page. One stranded passenger told one of the Canadians ‘how wonderful everyone in town had been. It made her feel part of a family.’

We’re all Americans tonight,” replied McKeage.

Kleenex. Lots of it.

And if you get a chance, see Come From Away. You will laugh and yep, you will cry, and it will have been so worth it.


More of my Goodreads reviews here.

Landing no-foot on our butts…

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost

Frostbite

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
In ’94 the odds, grown higher,
Make predictions more precise,
Backing ice at any price.

While, trudging byways filled with ruts,
Loaded shopping bags in hand,
We perform a triple lutz,
Unintentional, unplanned,
Landing no-foot on our butts.

The snows are treacherous and deep
And streets are chasms to be crossed
At prudent, guarded, cautious creep,
But on we go, whate’er the cost:
This year our bard is Robert Frost.
Felicia Lamport

My driveway, in winter.

Gallery

Corsets, 4-inch heels, and foot binding.

I hiked the Chilkoot Trail in 2000. When I was writing about it for Alaska magazine, somehow I stumbled across the information that women in that time, 1898-1899, wore on average forty pounds of clothes.

Can you imagine hiking up that

in forty pounds of clothes? That’s, what, like eight 5-pound chickens, or one three-year old child.

Now imagine that part of that forty pounds is a corset

Continue reading

The American Revolution, says the casting? It ain’t over.

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I’m obsessed with Hamilton. There, I said it out loud in front of god and everybody. I’m owning it. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack on repeat for going on two years now, I’ve watched the PBS documentary at least three times, I’ve sung my way through the libretto of this book while listening to the soundtrack, I’m currently reading the Chernow biography of Hamilton that inspired Miranda to write the musical, and I’ve now seen it on Broadway. Judge me, I dare you.

I was raised listening to Broadway musical soundtracks as my mother was a huge fan, and I wish, oh, how I wish she could have lived to have heard this one. Lin-Manuel Miranda has been called the Shakespeare of our time and I agree. First, there is the music, everything from classic Broadway ballads all the way to rap battles. Then there is the way the genre of each number defines and often advances each of the characters. Jefferson, who has been in France for the war, is singing jazz when he steps off the boat, while the rest of his contemporaries are hip-hopping–he literally is not speaking the same language as his peers. But when the time comes to debate states’ rights vs federal rights in “Cabinet Battle #1” he is mic-dropping with the best of them. King George IV and his high-kick number as a sole source chorus line (In which he does, in fact play the Chorus as if he were in something by Sophocles. This Miranda guy knows what the hell he is doing.)? Genius. If you’ve ever loved a child, parent or not, ‘Dear Theodosia’ is a hymn to your hopes and dreams for that child.

You will come of age with our young nation.
We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you.
If we lay a strong enough foundation
We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you, and you’ll blow us all away…

Second, there is the glorious inspiration that had Miranda casting African and Hispanic American actors in the roles of all these white-as-you-can-get-without-bleach Founding Fathers. These kids are up there on stage singing their hearts out about the great American experiment, and it is impossible to be unaware that the American Revolution succeeded in bringing freedom and equality to white males, but to women and people of other ethnicities not so much. The American Revolution, says the casting? It ain’t over. We’re still fighting it. And we’re gonna win.

From the day Alexander Hamilton arrived in what would become the United States, he fought against everything that flag would come to stand for. “If they break this Union, they will break my heart,” he said on his deathbed. His fight isn’t over, Chris [Jackson, who originated the role of George Washington] thinks: “It’s living and breathing.” When he looks around today, he sees a battle of ideas going on, one in which even a Broadway musical has a role to play, in every word, note, and gesture. “This is our own form of protest.”

Okay, so having proved my obsession in a few brief paragraphs (believe me, I could go on–‘Carefully taught!’ ‘The very model of a modern major general!’ Squeeee!), whether you’re obsessed like me or you just like great lyrics paired with great music, this book is for you. Yes, it’s expensive, but it is beautifully produced and each musical number is separated by essays and interviews on the history of the time, the production of this play, its characters and its cast members

Daveed [Diggs, who originated the role of Thomas Jefferson] thinks that seeing a black man play Jefferson or Madison or Washington when he was a kid in Oakland might have changed his life. “A whole lot of things I just never thought were for me would have seemed possible,” he says. Even now the show is changing him, making him feel more American. “I always felt at odds with this country,” he says. “You can only get pulled over by the police for no reason so many times before you say, ‘Fuck this.'”

and is illustrated throughout with photos of the production. Best of all are Miranda’s notes on the libretto.

This book is a terrific addition to the play, and it’d be a great gift for the Broadway musical fan in your life, or any student of history then and now. (FYI, I’ve already got mine.)

 


Read more of my Goodreads reviews here.

Tomorrow, you, me, high noon* at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore. Be there.


Black Friday, Cyber Monday, yeah, yeah–what you really want to concentrate on is

Small Business Saturday!

As in tomorrow at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale, from noon till three*, and here’s how to get there. Barbara Peters, owner and proprietor of that self-same bookstore

Barbara

and me

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will be recommending all the best books for good reads and great gifts.

Think Reddit AMA, only about books.

Tell us what you like to read and we’ll find more of it.

Want to step out of your reading comfort zone? We’ve got you covered.

Give us a brief description of the loved one you want to buy a book for and we will find the perfect book for that person.

Books. The gift that keeps on giving.


Soundtrack to this post.