Monday, November 10, 2003

Upcoming Events Department

The early part of the week is bad for me, blogging-wise, as I teach Tuesday nights and have a Wednesday deadline on a newsletter, but I can at least take the time to alert my four faithful readers to three events this week I deem worthy of their attention.


This month's edition of the Little Gray Book Lectures, a series founded by raconteur extraordinaire John Hodgman (known to me originally in his role as former literary agent and McSweeney's contributor; for examples of his work, do a Find for "hodgman" on this page).

This month's lecture, the 23rd so far, takes place Wednesday night and is titled "BROOKLINE—The Town That Has Everything (And At The Same Time Has Nothing)."

The e-mail promoting Lecture 23 promises "discourse on the town formerly known as Muddy River, from your host, the Brookline native John Hodgman, and his panel of notable experts, including:

"PATRICK BORELLI, a comedian once based in the city of Boston, on how he averted a crisis at the Coolidge Corner Moviehouse, a crisis involving MONSTERS;

"ADAM MAZMANIAN, the famed public speaker, on “The War for Hall’s Pond,” one of two natural ponds that exist in Brookline. Did you know?: it is home to black-crowned NIGHT HERONS;

"DANZY SENNA, the author of CAUCASIA, speaking of the mysterious stranger who one day came to town with an answer to the scourge of pool-halls: a secret African-American fraternity of his OWN DESIGN; and

"SARAH VOWELL, the author of THE PARTLY CLOUDY PATRIOT, on Brookliner-President John F. Kennedy and the strange coincidences tying him to Abraham Lincoln, HIS BEST FRIEND FROM ANOTHER TOWN.

"Plus, JONATHAN COULTON--who married a Brookline woman and is still learning our strange customs involving giant wicker men, potions that grant superhuman strength, and stores that sell only pudding--will sing briefly on THESE SUBJECTS. Then after the program, he will appear with a FULL ROCK BAND to sing about SEVERAL OTHER SUBJECTS in celebration of the release of his first compact DISK, entitled SMOKING MONKEY. We are very excited about this."

Hodgman also pledges a complimentary slice of pizza for all attendees at the conclusion of the event.

Note, too, that the back room has reopened at Galapagos, which makes for a much more comfortable and enjoyable entertainment experience.


Typographer Peter Bain, who is my cousin and whose Web site you can visit here or from the link at the left of this page, is delivering a lecture Thursday evening at the prestigious and prodigiously well-appointed Grolier Club titled "Film Type."

Peter describes the event as follows: "A free slide lecture . . . on the days of photo-typesetting, when firms such as Photo-Lettering and ITC helped release typography from the constraints of metal. The distinctive display styles of that era will be explored and critiqued from today's perspective."

I never miss a chance to enter the prestigious and prodigiously well-appointed Grolier Club, and besides, Peter's my cousin, so of course I'll be there.

Note, too, that Mr. Bain has just released his first typeface for purchase, a font called Gridiot.


Also Thursday night—unfortunately, since I cannot be in two places at once—is the last in the series of readings promoting Boris Fishman's eminently readable, and affordable, and, yes, even ground-breaking, anthology of stories from Eastern Europe, Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier.

Writes Boris: "A motley group of readers -- Arthur Phillips, Paul Greenberg, John Beckman, and Josip Novakovich -- will read from four very different stories. Afterward, a no-consequences romp through the neighborhood in the finest spirit of the book. It's finally cold enough to feel like Russia, though we will have our trouble mistaking the Upper West Side for Vladivostok."

The reading will be at Makor, and admission is $8.

I attended an earlier reading at Galapagos, at which I purchased a copy of the book, and though I can't take the time to write about it here in full, I can at least say that I finished the book yesterday, and I unreservedly give it the Slavotrash Seal of Approval. It's much better than the vast majority of literary anthologies I've encountered, and don't forget: We get so few books in English about Eastern Europe for a general audience that any time one manages to make it to publication, it is a momentous event.

Hats off to Boris!