Friday, July 22, 2011

Sara Paretsky at A Room of One's Own

Sara Paretsky at A Room of One's Own

T and I went to see author Sara Paretsky reading last night at Madison's A Room of One's Own from Body Work, her 2010 V.I Warshawski book that's just going into paperback.

"You can buy books elsewhere for less," said Nancy, one of the co-owners of Madison's invaluable independent, feminist bookstore -- "but then you wouldn't get Sara Paretsky." The author echoed her comments about the importance of bookstores as places to browse when you don't even know what you're looking for. As she said, "Amazon will give you recommendations, but that's not the same thing as picking a book up and leafing through it yourself." She also lauded the role bookstores play in creating communities,something that's especially true of A Room of One's Own. Finally, she noted that authors tend to get short-changed on royalties by Amazon.

It was such a pleasure seeing this writer I've admired for so long -- one of those genre writers who transcends the limits of genre and isn't afraid to be political. Her protagonist V.I. Warshawski is as unique and memorable as Parestsky's gritty portrayal of Chicago (I've always thought it was a shame and a missed opportunity that the only movie I know of that was made from her novels was pretty bad -- V.I. Warshawski, a dreadful 1991 Kathleen Turner vehicle).

Paretsky talked about politics, and how surreal it was to watch what had become of Wisconsin, which had always seemed like such a leading progressive light. She also talked about the process of aging her character over a long writing career. She and V.I. started out at the same age in their thirties, but now she's 64 and V.I. is about 50. But she hasn't had the heart to age the dogs, who remain the same age. As she pointed out, otherwise they'd all be dead by now.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nuclear summer: Amazing mushroom cloud east of Madison at sunset, billowing up into the light

Mushroom Cloud East of Madison
The incredible heat we're having right now is having some pretty dramatic meteorological effects.

When I saw this cloud rising above the Madison skyline, I had to pull into the Edgewood College parking lot to get a clear field of view for my iPhone. It was as if a hydrogen bomb had gone off in the distance -- and, energywise, it had. To give you some idea of the scale of this thunderhead, it was about 20 miles east of the city when the photo was taken. There's a lot of energy packed into the intensely hot, humid weather we've been having. A typical thunderstorm has about the same amount of energy as a small H-bomb. It just doesn't release it all at once.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Documenting Opera in the Park

I was documenting Opera in the Park the other night by making this wobbly little video of the Madison Opera performing a selection from "The Barber of Seville" when somebody else ran into the frame and ran off with my attention.

KAP'n Craig at the ControlsIt was kite aerial photographer (KAP) Craig Wilson -- KAP'n Craig as he calls himself on Flickr. He has added so much to our visual understanding of Madison and its surroundings. Check out what his kite cam saw. He does such wonderful work.