Wednesday, October 31, 2007

El Halloween and the Dia de Muertos

Apropos of which, here's an excerpt about the holiday in San Jose del Cabo, from the first chapter of my travel memoir, Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, posted on BajaInsider back when the book was first published in hardcover. (I'm happy to say it's now available from Milkweed Editions in a paperback version). No, that is not Picadou--- I've no idea where in the world these pugs are... only about five dfferent people have sent me this photo via e-mail--- and thanks to all! More anon.

Terrorists: A Thoughtoid + Link

Sending around the first complete draft of my historical novel to readers, I've been getting one fairly consistent comment, that my having Mexico's Empress Carlota use the word "terrorist" to describe Mexican insurgents seems much too post-September 11th. Interesting. Apropos of which, check out this recent op-ed in the New York Times on the origin of the word. More anon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Guest-Blogger Nancy Levine (with Wilson): Five Favorite Pug Sites

Pugs, pugs, pugs, pugs--- and more pugs! Madam Mayo loves pugs! Indeed, Madam Mayo owns a pug--- or, rather, Madam Mayo is owned by a pug. (Picadou, the tiny, shiny, inky, minky princess.) We, and that's the royal "we," are big fans of Nancy Levine's Wilson the Pug series. Apropos of Nancy's latest, The Ugly Pugling, Wilson the Pug in Love, we have invited her to guest-blog here with her five favorite pug sites. Here goes:

#1: Rainbow Pugs
Love the cool, stylized art of Michael Hamlin.

#2: Pug Savers
My hometown pug rescue; Roxane Fritz who runs it is amazing, as are all the folks doing pug rescue around the country. It is truly noble work.

#3: Who Stole My Monkey
The first true social networking site for pug people. It's brand new, but great functionality. Like MySpace for pug people.

#4: Pug Village
I check the forum whenever I need to know anything pug.

#5. Lenny the Pug
Lenny is tireless in doing great work to help pugs and abandoned animals in New York City.

--- Nancy Levine

To read Madam Mayo's other guest-blog posts, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens: Monday October 29th at Politics and Prose

If you're anywhere near Washington DC on Monday October 29th, don't miss this one at the venerable Politics and Prose (5015 Connecticut Ave NW) at 7:30 pm: Peter Behrens will be reading from and signing his sweeping, years-in-the-making novel about the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, The Law of Dreams. I had the privilege of reading with Peter at Yaddo back in 1998 (he read a section from this book and I read from Miraculous Air). Years later, our residencies happened to coincide at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), and again, we shared a reading. He finished the novel at VCCA--- a great inspiration for me, as at that time, I was on page 150 of what has turned out to be a 510 page historical novel of my own. The Law of Dreams has gotten rave rewiews--- check out the one in the New York Times and www.peterbehrens.org for more info. about this splendid novel. More anon.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Five Minutes of Synesthesia

Just received a nice note from a writer who has been doing my five minute writing exercises (check 'em out: 365, all free) and asks me to continue... ah, no, but anyway, here's one: Synesthesia, the mixing up of sense perceptions, is a powerful technique for enhancing the vividness of your writing. (Read more about synesthesia in Richard Cytowic's The Man Who Tasted Shapes.) Here's the exercise: Put on a CD of music--- any kind of music. As you listen attentively for 5 minutes, according to your perceptions of the music, note colors, textures, tastes and/ or smells. (But no sounds.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Helmut's" Phronesisaical, aka The Phron

Yes, there are 700 ba-ga-lula-ga-jillion blogs out there, and yeah, who has the time, but what it's all about is carving out your very own information landscape. What's in mine? One blog I often read is Phronesisaical, founded by my amigo, a Washington DC professor of philosophy, torture (philosophy of, that is) expert, and exotic fruit aficionado (hey, it's blogging, you can do whatever floats your parachute). Why do I read the Phron? Because I always learn something. In particular, I've learned a lot about the blogosphere just from the links he offers. For example, just from Tuesday, here are three excellent posts:
---> Being an Iraqi Refugee in Syria. News is that Riverbend, the widely followed English language blog of an Iraqi, is back on-line. Check the archives on this one.
--->Another Mistrial of the War on Terror Hemlut does some philosophizing...(As Madam Mayo likes to ask, who, really, are the terrorists?)
--->The Jungle Helmut offers a beautiful and original essay about growing up in Taiwan.

More anon.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Space Doll by Christine Boyka Kluge

This is Christine Boyka Kluge's collage, Space Doll, which inspired a poem and more. One of the most interesting and vibrant artist-poets we have is blogging. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Desiree Fairooz


Here is a vivid example of "nonviolence"--- as the Dalai Lama defines it, "a rational stimulus to action." The woman on the left of Condoleeza Rice is Desiree Fairooz, who was recently profiled in the Fort Worth Weekly. More anon.

Mexico City This Saturday C.M. Mayo's One Day Workshop on "Techniques of Fiction"

Via Dancing Chiva. Sign-up closes on Friday before noon. Unless you beg. I need to figure out how many xerox copies to make for y'all. Missed this one? There's a one day "Literary Travel Writing Workshop" this winter. P.S. Wherever you may be, help yourself to the 365 daily writing exercises. More anon.

Madam Mayo Hearts Sparklines

Sparklines, conceptualized by Edward Tufte, are "small, high resolution graphics embedded in a context of words, numbers, images." In other words, "intense, simple, word-sized graphics." Use these and get off your burro and onto the Concorde--- really. Here's an excerpt from Tufte's book and a discussion thread. And here's the wiki. Here's my rave about the workshop. More anon.

No Money from PACs? (Are We in Kansas, Not?)

Check out my amiga Janet's Obama page. And the "donate" Obama '08 page has some mighty interesting info. More anon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

King Corn, Corn, Corn, and More Corn

Just saw the excellent new documentary film, King Corn about our dangerously--- and grossly--- disfunctional food production industry which has left us, especially our lower income classes, highly dependent on genetically modified corn (corn syrup as a key ingredient in processed foods and soft drinks and indirectly, as animal feed). Why is this so dangerous? It's not just the widespread negative health impact of the degraded nuritional quality of our food. (Anyone remember the Irish potato famine? And how about the recent, massive--- and hugely under-reported--- pet food recall?) P.S. Farm bill coming up. Check out Mulch blog on the film and the farm bill. And what's the problem with GM corn? Yowza.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Power of Small Multiples

Still amazed by Edward Tufte's workshop... (which I blogged about here)... In one of his several books, Envisioning Information, he dedicates an entire chapter to small multiples, and the power of fitting them into an eyespan. Et voila, I put some small multiples onto the home page of Tameme. Now if I could just figure out how to do that on this blog... More anon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's Called the Insectothopter: Insect-Like Drones To Watch You Here in the Homeland

Next time you go to a rally or any kind of protest, be sure to bring your sign--- and a net. Or maybe just a swatter. Or a big hobnailed boot. As reported in the Washington Post the other day, insect-robot drones have been spotted near the White House in downtown DC. Ain't swamp gas, hon. Or, are you going to drink the Kool-aid? Ask, who, really, are the terrorists?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

All Hail E.T., Minister of Information

Yesterday I attended Edward Tufte's workshop--- one of the best I have ever taken. To my amazement, I found it mega-useful for everything from designing a webpage to evaluating stories in the newspaper, to writing literary fiction. Whether you are an economist, a lawyer, or a rocket scientist, take this workshop, my friend. You will never use Power Point again! Here's a recent article about Tufte in New York Magazine. The cover, pictured left, is of his latest book, Beautiful Evidence. More anon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Good Germans Among Us

A piece in the New York Times I am delighted to see. Bush says "we don't torture people"? Yeah, and his nose is about 10 feet long and sprouting Astro-Turf. Tip o' the hat to the Phron.

Monday, October 15, 2007

MiPOesias Women of the Web

Didi Menendez (pictured left), founder of MiPOesias, interviews Yours Truly about Tameme on Women of the Web. I'm right after Amanda Johnston, founding editor of Torch. Be sure to check out the many other interviews. They all end with the same command: Leave us with a recipe for poetry. One of my favorites is from Jean Emerson of Jacaranda Press. She writes, "Stanley Kunitz once said that poetry happens where the past meets the present. The best recipe for poetry I know of is: take one pen and one piece of paper. Find a pretty place to sit, and look around. See what you remember let the words have their way." Here's my recipe: "Keep your pen on the paper. When you are finished, lift your pen. If you are not finished, remember: keep your pen on the paper." Tip o' the hat to you, Lyn.

Milarepa: Magician, Murderer, Saint: A Film by Neten Chokling

Just saw Milarepa, the movie about Tibet's great 11th century yogi, at Washington DC's E Street cinemna--- it's spellbindingly splendid. Filmed in northern India, the scenery is stunning, and the acting extraordinary--- especially when one considers that most were local villagers. The director and producer did a Q & A afterwards--- I asked about the eldery lady with a bundle of firewood on her back, who appeared on the mountaintop during scene of Milarepa's violent revenge. It turns out, the lady was so old, that two men had to carry her up the mountain. And her tears were authentic--- she was so moved by the story. On Monday there will be a special screening with an introduction by Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. So if you're in DC, don't miss this. And check out the blog, which includes an interview with the director.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A.L. Bardach in the Washington Post on the Overbooking Scam

The horror stories are legion. (I've got several in my own family.) Why don't we call these airlines's methodical and gross overbooking what it is? A criminal scam. Apropos of what happened to Carol Anne Gotbaum in the Phoenix Airport, in today's Washington Post, A.L. Bardach tells a personal story, combined with investigative research that's quite shocking. Where is the regulation and supervision of this industry? It seems to be a free-for-all. Let's not even get into the shenanigans of some of the fascist puppets working in airport security these days... More anon.
--->UPDATE: Read Diane Ravitch's blistering piece on Carol Anne Gotbaum's death. I saw the surveillance video, too. The airport police response was absurd. It was disgusting. If that is proper procedure, God help us all. What has happened to America? How can anyone in their right mind, with even a millionth of an ounce of dignity, go on CNN and claim that this was appropriate police action? It blows my mind.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Baja Breeze

The premier issue of Baja Breeze includes an interview by editor Adam Behar with Yours Truly about Miraculous Air and Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. The text of the interview is posted on my webpage here. More anon.

Friday, October 12, 2007

No Vote, No Questions

DC Vote www.dcvote.org is the Washington organization that is lobbying to get DC residents voting rights. Believe it or not, though a US citizen, as a DC resident, I have no (voting) representation in the House or Senate. That was not always the case, by the way--- the history is a bit more interesting than many would like us to believe. Here's the latest: don't even ask.

Taking Applications "Techniques of Fiction" One-Day Workshop in Mexico City

This October 27th via Dancing Chiva. A few spaces left. For more info about the workshop, click here.

New on Madam Mayo's Blogroll

Jim Kunstler, Prophet of Doom. P.S. Quick, buy a twike.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

PEN Member websites

Bless their hearts over there at PEN--- the member profiles have been turned into full-fledged websites! Here's mine. And here are the rest of the troops.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Mark Kurlansky's Nonviolence won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in nonfiction. Here's my statement.
P.S. The saying "fish or cut bait--- or get out of the boat" is something Teddy Wharton used to say to Edith. Funny, how it stuck in my mind.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

This Thursday October 4th @ 6 pm Miraculous Air: San Diego Museum of Man

Book talk --- slide show--- signing--- for Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California the Other Mexico--- more info here. Back blogging after the 9th.

Guest-Blogger Roy Sorrels's Top 5 Reasons Why Mexico's San Miguel de Allende is a Writer's Heaven

Madam Mayo is off to San Diego--- back blogging after the 9th--- in the meantime, enjoy this guest-blog post by award-winning playwright and writing coach Roy Sorrels, who divides his time between New York City and San Miguel de Allende--- his writing heaven for many years. What made him choose San Miguel de Allende? Here are his top five reasons.
# 1. Mexico is a land of mystery. I quickly learned how different it was from my former hometown of New York City. There are things in this land that I will never really understand. There is, I believe, no better frame of mind for the writer than a wide-eyed, wide-mind acceptance of the mystery of the world around us.

#2. Mexico is a land of the here and now. My first week in San Miguel I saw two old men and a young boy building a wall of rough concrete blocks. There was a tumbled stack of blocks, and a mess of cement on the cobblestone street with a concave puddle in its center into which they would add one splash of water after another from a leaky bucket. They stirred with an old shovel. One block in place, some wet cement splatted on top of it, and then another block. In the New York City I’d left behind a wall would be pre-fabricated far away, shipped to the site, and clicked into place. But the block by block approach of these workers seemed so much like the word by word work that I faced every day, and I felt right at home.

#3. Mexico, or San Miguel at least, is a magnet for writers. I would run into Clifford Irving on the street, chat with Joe Persico in the Jardin, join in a writing group with Dick and Debbie Stein, Barbara Faith, Jack Slater, Donna Meyer, and Eva Hunter. Beverly Donofrio was often in town, and Pulitzer Prize poet W. D. Snodgrass hung out in my favorite café. New York, of course, has far more writers, but you don’t run into them buying veggies in the open market, or lounging on a Jardin bench in the late afternoon waiting for a black cloud of grackles to sail in over the old church and settle in the trees.

#4. San Miguel is a gentle place, friendly to the elderly and to children, and even friendly to outsiders from the North. While we Americans pontificate about family values, in Mexico the family is in fact valuable. Children are noisy and rambunctious and they make everyone smile. Ancient grandparents look after them with tender solicitude, giving mom and dad the time and energy to work hard and make more babies. This gentle world created a comfortable and nurturing place for me to be creative.

#5. Mexico runs on Mexican time. In a place where mañana doesn’t really mean tomorrow but “some time in the future,” time is a phenomenon not to be explained or understood by multi-tasking gringos. The laws of physics notwithstanding, time does actually slow down. It did for me in my San Miguel years. I got more writing done in an hour than I ever did in New York, and I had my lazy days away from the keyboard when I did nothing much, and it took me all day to get it done.

I’ve lived and written in other faraway places: Amsterdam, a tiny village in rural France (where Chocolát was filmed), Paris, and a tiny island off the west coast of Sicily, but nowhere else did I find the nurturing, magical world that San Miguel gave me. I go back whenever I can, and memories of the cobblestone streets that turn into rivers on a rainy day, the laughter and music of the Jardin, the smell of fresh tortillas and bountiful bougainvillea, are in my heart as I tap these keys right now!
--- Roy Sorrels


Be sure to check out Roy Sorrel's new blog. To read other guest-blogs posts on Madam Mayo, including ones by other San Miguel de Allenda aficionadas, writer and poet Sheila Bender and novelist Janice Eidus, click here.