Friday, March 24, 2017

David Maraniss was interviewed by the lovely young reporter whose boots appeared here once before.  He's written books on Barack Obama and Roberto Clemente, on Detroit and Bill Clinton and Vince Lombardi.  He's an editor at the Washington Post (in his spare time?) and spoke eloquently about covering tragedies and of humanity's need to feel it.   
I wrote the words in my notebook before I took the microphone; I asked the first question of the afternoon.  How do you balance "humanity's need to feel it" with the intrusion into the lives of those who are the actors in the tragedy?
Some in the audience met my eyes and smiled the smile that says I know who you are, and I took that loving feeling in as I bathed in the warmth of his answer, words said slowly, after a pause:
You cradle them in your hand.

The best of the reporters TBG and I encountered did just that; I wish I had met Mr. Maraniss when I was in the drama.  His advice - Find the universal in the particular - was every PTA mom, every playgroup member, every soccer practice family who heard about Christina-Taylor and me and said  That could have been you with my child, or me with yours.  
He was perfect.

And then there was Amy Dickinson, America's long-winded Ann Landers for the 21st Century, whose column often ran longer than the news articles in the AZ Star, before the editor (who was forced to confess her sin to the final questioner) decided to limit her to one question per day.
She, like all the others, left her stuff on the chairs in front of me.  We exchanged meaningless pleasantries and then she was on, acting like my sister on a good day, smart and sassy and full of wisdom.  "In these times, it's really important for us to stick together and to stay connected," felt as comforting as she meant it to be; her kindness won us over after two sentences from her book.  

Though we chose to hear the happy part rather than the sadder section of the two she offered us, in the end she began to read about the day her mother died.... and she had to stop, to catch her breath, to compose herself.  The audience was quiet, unmoving, with a low rumble of it's okay ohhhh sniff underlining the moment.  As a fellow shootee sitting at my feet and I agreed, it was a quintessentially Tucson moment.

And that's the ultimate take away from the TFOB  -  it draws those moments out of talented people from everywhere. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tucson Festival of Books

Saturday morning, an hour before the first session of the first day of the TFOB, I was comfortably ensconced in the front row, feeling somewhat lonely.
Forty five minutes later, I was feeling the crush.

I listened to Tim Stellar and Joe Conason discuss covering the news in the 21st century.
"It's much harder to print fake news in a print paper than on-line," Conason said.  
"They get most of it right most of the time."  
His advice to the media - "You don't need to repeat every nonsense tweet" - seemed like a delusion, television being the ratings driven business that it is.  But the man used the word tendentious, a lovely, rarely used word, and for that I can forgive a multitude of sins.  

Before I left for Penelope at The Rogue Theatre, I shared a moment with Ron Fournier.  During his love story about his relationship with his son, he shared a fact I know is true:  Michelle Obama is the best hugger!

Sunday morning, bright and early, I sat in the front row of the Science Tent, not ten feet from Dava Sobel, author of the science books I love the most.  Planets is in my powder room.  Gallileo's Daughter, writing from her convent, has sat on my shoulder since she was published in 1999.  
There's a Cornell connection, too; she said that writing for Cornell Science was her favorite job.
I listened, star-struck, and delighted.  I chewed on my Kashi Bar, enjoying my breakfast with her.
It was kinda perfect, denizens.

I had lunch, I wandered through the astronomy exhibits (did you know that the first grad students in astronomy at Harvard were women?) and learned about planets from another Cornellian, finishing her doctorate here at the UofA.  I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Arizonal Daily Star's Main Tent.  You'll have to come back tomorrow to read about that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Antidote to the Pain

John Oliver is right.  We all need some Brazilian Zebras to brighten our days.

What, you wonder (if you didn't watch Sunday's edition of Last Week Tonight), am I talking about? Since 2005, the city of La Paz has employed people to dress up as zebras and bring kindness to the craziness that is traffic in the city.  They beg, they plead, they dance, they fling themselves before on-coming vehicles so that pedestrians can cross safely - all while looking like this:

Image result for smokey the bearImage result for mcgruff the crime dogNo, there are no real zebras in Brazil.

Yes, the program provides entry level jobs for recovering addicts and others on the margins.

No, they do not speak nor do they remove their heads while on duty.

Yes, they are Brazil's answer to McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey the Bear; kids love them.

The green screen image has been graciously provided to the video-producing public.  The zebra makes Trump's presser with Angela Merkel less awkward:


Sean Spicer's defense of the indefensible becomes a watchable piece of television when his tie begins to dance:
wingard entertainment

TBG and I were drowning in the swamp of Manafort and The President stands by his tweets.  We were staring at FlapJilly's face on my phone's wallpaper, missing our littlest girl with aching hearts.  We were travel exhausted and couldn't concentrate on anything remotely serious; even A Thousand Clowns was too much for my brain to handle.  

As John Oliver so plaintively cried - Why didn't we know about this until now?

Try it.  I promise that it will help.  Nothing else seems to do the trick.  Reality is trying to ruin my day already, and it's only 8 o'clock in the morning.  I'm going to watch some zebras and get back on track.  Look for The Burrow early in the morning tomorrow.... if I can tear myself away from these


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Too Little, Too Late

Sprawled on Douglas, drinking bottle after bottle of water to counter the altitude headache returning home sends my way, looking at pictures of SIR and Little Cuter and FlapJillly on my phone, I was, once again, screaming at the television.

Where were the replays of the ridiculous Sesame Street parodies of Donald Trump during the campaign?  Why was the outrage over his untruths muddied beneath worries about calling a lie a lie? Why did Katy Tur stand before an empty podium for hours, waiting for the candidate to arrive while Hillary Clinton was giving a fact-filled speech? Why? Why? Why?

Where was the press three years ago when this outrage began to be perpetrated on the American people?  I'm quite impressed with their current outrage, but, I fear, it is too little, too late.

Listening to the attendees at the President's campaign rally last night, it is clear to me that they don't care about the facts.  They are responding to the emotion.  They don't trust, they don't believe, and the Commander in Chief (uh, North Korea... China... the world is imploding, sir) is feeding the frenzy instead of paying attention to the world around him.

It's March, 2017, for crying out loud.... who else is running in 2020 and campaigning today?

Is it a tempest in a teapot?  Not when you listen to Adam Schiff make the case for impeachment.... at least that's the way it sounded to me.  Reasoned, careful, thoughtful, fact-filled..... and terrifying.

In exchange for ratings, the media gave prime time exposure to a clown.  He was everywhere, and I admit that I, too, was fascinated by the performances.  It never occurred to me that 45% of my fellow Americans were believing the drivel.... and that they would vote the fool into office.

Since he's golfed 9 times in less than 100 days, I don't think that he thought they'd do it, either.  He's in over his head, and moving Ivanka into an office on the 2nd floor of the White House won't do much to ease our pain.  I asked her to do something about her difficult dad back in October, and she ignored me.  Like Angela Merkel, I wonder what a handbag designer is doing in a policy meeting.

I understand the lust - Republicans own three out of three branches of government and they are reluctant to show cracks in the cement.  But, just like Big Bob's new driveway, when cracks appear they need to be addressed.  And this is not a crack, this is a fissure.

As we were trying to keep our eyes open towards 10pm, Rachel Maddow told us that The Guardian reported that Rex Tillerson (our stealth Secretary of State, the one traveling without the press corps) will be going to Russia instead of to NATO this spring.

If this is doubling down to drown out the criticisms, it's at best misguided and at worst a public admission of collusion with Putin.  Insult the German Chancellor, accuse the British intelligence community of illegal activity, snub Justin Trudeau..... I think I may just have to search the interwebs and find the videos the Russians have on DJT.

Our media shied away from the story, because it was leaked, because it wasn't verifiable, because because because..... Now, they are falling over each other, reporting that the US was considering employing the author of the report, extolling his credentials, repeating some but not all of the information.

Was it out of respect for the man?  Out of respect for the office?  Out of fear of retribution?  We will never know.  But the failure to expose the fact that the emperor is naked as a jaybird lies squarely on The Media.  The mocking videos were out there during the campaign.  The lies should have been called lies when they happened, instead of parsing the words to use to describe them.

Sean Spicer cannot be trusted to speak the truth.  Donald Trump cannot be trusted to speak the truth.  The world is going to hell in a hand basket, and the media is doing too little, too late,

When the leaks investigations begin, I want to see all those reporters sitting in cells, refusing to name their sources.  It's the least they can do for showing up so late to the party.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Travel Day

Bye-Bye Babies.... parental units and offspring.

Bye-Bye Trolls and dance parties and giggles and hugs.

Bye-Bye cloudy skies and stomping on snow and walking Thomas the Wonder Dog.

It never gets easier to say goodbye.......

Friday, March 17, 2017

Hanging Out on St. Patrick's Day

More serious musings next week. For now, I'm salving my heart with smiles like these. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

It Is Hard To Fathom

(Apologies for the late posting; having grandbaby funis quite distracting!)
During nap time yesterday, TBG and I watched the news.  We've been on a diet of Trolls and Jeopardy while visiting; Little Cuter, wisely, shields her daughter from the President of the United States.

I've been pondering that fact while watching my brilliant granddaughter tell jokes and wonder What's This? and Who's That?

It's obvious to me that the kid could recognize the President.  It's also obvious to me why my daughter doesn't want her to do so.  The judge in Hawaii knows why, too, and took pains to point out to both the President and the rest of us that words matter, that hatred cannot be hidden behind a cloak of safety, that religious freedom is enshrined in the Constitution and no one man can change that fact.  

How could you possibly explain all that to a little one, even one as smart as mine?

So, my granddaughter is growing up without knowing that DJT is running the country.  She is protected from the vitriol but is also missing out on happenings in the real world.  True, she's not even three years old.  She has plenty of time to learn.  But SIR and Little Cuter are so good about including her in the conversation, so careful to ease her into childhood from babyhood with a full complement of personal and interpersonal skills, to teach her all that they know and more, which makes it all the more striking when they ask that the tv be turned to a less poisonous person.

This is the President of the United States we are silencing, and I'm having a hard time disagreeing with their decision.  Spouting hatred, untruths and half truths, preening before adoring audiences (who, like most auto workers, have their insurance paid for by their employer) - none of that has any business in the mind of my little FlapJilly.

I guess I'll have to console myself with the fact that she is living in a world where the Cubs are the reigning World Series Champions.  A girl can't have everything, now, can she?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

TFOB Footwear

The shoes told the story.
The Arizona Star reporter wore her work-a-day cowboots
as she sat on the high stool, interviewing the author.

The author, shiny shoes on the left,came to town from New York City.
The Tucson based interviewer has dusty sneakers.

And then there was Amy Dickinson, of Ask Amy fame.
She came to town from upstate New York, and her short heels were perfect with her tan tunic and pants.  They must not have been very comfortable, though.

Monday, March 13, 2017

We are leaving sunshine and temperatures in the 80's
and the blooming wildflowers
for snow and temperatures in the 30's and this
The love will keep us warm.


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