*Haven't done one of these in a while, have I? There have been times when I felt I was leaning too hard on the LBJ form, but lately I've either been writing at a bit of length or not writing at all. Maybe that'll change...

*I've had my head down over the book for the last few weeks, pretty much from the moment I got done with my Wilderness First Responder recertification courrse. There have been interruptions for travel and such, but the progress, thank god, has been fairly steady. I'm just shy of 101,000 words at the moment, with a few thousand more to go. I think it will wrap up between 105k and 110k. Then there will need to be a bit of reorganization. And then off it goes.

*Wednesday I took a day off from the book--literally, that was the first day on which I did NOTHING on it in a couple of weeks--and met my old friend Mary Stevens at Shenandoah National Park for some birding and/or hiking. We did VERY well with the latter--six miles plus on the Fox Hollow, Snead Farm, and Dickey Ridge trails--and pretty well on the former. Leaves are, alas, thick, but there were opportunities to spot several interesting forest denizens, including only my third Hooded Warbler ever. (Interestingly, all three were in the confines of SNP.) We also spotted what we thought were a couple of Carolina Wrens in a tangle near the path, but the color seemed wrong to me, and they weren't making the usual wren noises. We kept scoping them out until I finally spotted a pale eyebrow stripe, which would have confirmed the wren if it weren't for the darker stripe over the pale one. "I think it's a Worm-eater," I said to Mary, and sure enough, there it was: my second Worm-eating Warbler. We also saw the Traditional Color Wheel of Summer (Northern Cardinal, American Goldfinch, and Indigo Bunting), plus a bonus look at a glowing orange-red Scarlet Tanager. If my calves weren't still sore, I'd have called it a perfect day.

*Yesterday I dashed down to Richmond to pick up Dixon, who has just wrapped up his third week of performances in Student Voices, the play he and six other VCU students are doing for the school's freshman orientation program. As summer jobs goes, he says it's a lot better than washing dishes--and yes, he's getting paid. Every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (and occasionally Thursday), the cast does two shows, for the parents at 5:00 and the incoming students at 6:00, which means he's already performed this show more times than any other play he's ever been in. He gets next week off for the 4th, then returns for two more weeks of shows. I think there must be something like six thousand freshmen coming in.

*While in Richmond, we ate in Carytown at the Galaxy Diner, one of our favorite funky joints in the 'Mond, and enjoyed both the food (I had the meatloaf sub, Dix the crab cake sandwich), a very pleasant waitress, and an interesting version of "Piece of My Heart" by an old-fashioned soul singer whom we couldn't identify. I'll do some more research.

*We also discovered, to our resignation, that the Carytown location of Plan 8 Music is apparently closing down. Whether they're planning to relocate or what we don't know, but it seemed a good excuse to dash in and drop some coin on used music. Dixon opted for a new album by Andrew Jackson Jihad, a folk-punk outfit that called to mind a combination of the Mountain Goats, Modest Mouse, and Rock Plaza Central--strangely disturbing but often very funny lyrics, upright bass, expressive but untrained lead vocals, fast-paced acoustic thrashing--under the provocative title People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World. I opted to mix it up a bit. I spotted several old favorites that I'd either lost or had only on vinyl:

Peter Gabriel/Passion
Monty Python/The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python & the Holy Grail
Simon & Garfunkel/Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme

Then I went for a few unfamiliar albums by artists I liked:

Ben Folds/Songs for Silverman
Stan Freberg/The Capitol Collector's Series
Jens Lekman/Night Falls Over Kortedala
The New Pornographers/Twin Cinema

This last was a no-brainer, as I've spent the last couple of years making a laser-burned hole in my copy of Challengers. The Lekman I bought purely on the strength of one song, "A Postcard to Nina," which concerns the narrator's being called in to play the role of boyfriend for his lesbian pal during dinner with her parents. I received a copy of the song a few years back when some Readervilleans and I were exchanging mix CDs, and the estimable Mr. Scott Tennent included Jens on his disc. Way to proselytize, Scott!

*Tonight, Dixon and I will venture forth to the wilds of Baltimore for a reading by one of our favorite cartoonists, Tim Kreider. Creator of The Pain--When Will It End? and author of such cartoon/essay collections as Twilight of the Assholes and the brand-new We Learn Nothing, Kreider is not only a humorist of Biercean darkness, but a fabulously gifted artist with a cross-hatched style whose detail adds a dollop of sweetness to his most misanthropic ideas, while making some of his goofier ideas frighteningly plausible. I've been a fan since stumbling across his brilliant "Science vs. Norse Mythology" way back in early '05, but he cemented his place in my heart when Dixon was 14 and wrote him a fan letter; not only did Kreider respond on his site, marveling at his own ability to warp young minds, but after asking our parental permission, he sent Dixon an original sketch. So yeah, we're gonna spend six hours in the car today.

*Wait a minute... it's going to be HOW warm today?

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on June 29, 2012 9:15 AM.

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