24 March, 2011


"Education Secretary Michael Gove says that children aged 11 should be reading 50 books a year to improve literacy standards. [Huffington Post] asked three of Britain's leading children's authors and two of [their] in-house book experts to each pick 10 books, suitable for Year 7 students. The authors chose books that have brought them huge joy, while expressing their outrage at the "great big contradiction" of Mr Gove's claim to wish to improve literacy while closing libraries across the country."

I've only read 6 of these books... perhaps I'll get to enjoy many more of them in about a dozen years when my little one is reading them. I'd also add to this list Le Petit Prince and The Buffalo Tree.  

How many have you read?

1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. Indispensable. The great classic beginning of English children's literature.
2. Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. What effortless invention looks like.
3. Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner. A great political story: democracy in action.
4. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. As clear and pure as Mozart.
5. Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken. If Ransome was Mozart, Aiken was Rossini. Unforced effervescence.
6. The Owl Service by Alan Garner. Showed how children's literature could sound dark and troubling chords.
7. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Superb wit and vigorous invention.
8. Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson. Any of the Moomin books would supply the same strange light Nordic magic.
9. A Hundred Million Francs by Paul Berna. A particular favourite of mine, as much for Richard Kennedy's delicate illustrations (in the English edition) as for the story.
10. The Castafiore Emerald by HergĂ©. Three generations of this family have loved Tintin. Perfect timing, perfect narrative tact and command, blissfully funny. 

23 March, 2011


Proud of this new play that opened at our theatre last night! 
A well deserved CONGRATULATIONS to all involved.

18 March, 2011


Only in New York do you get this kind of entertainment in the streets.
What I like imagining is how this guy actually gets the piano from his apartment to the middle of Washington Square Park. Looks like it's on wheels, so does he just casually wheel it down the street? And is he well known enough that his neighbors are like, "Look, honey. There goes Bob with his piano again." 

15 March, 2011


An almost unbelievable article. Read in full below.

by Liz Goodwin

Last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan has actually moved the island closer to the United States and shifted the planet's axis.

The quake caused a rift 15 miles below the sea floor that stretched 186 miles long and 93 miles wide, according to the AP. The areas closest to the epicenter of the quake jumped a full 13 feet closer to the United States, geophysicist Ross Stein at the United States Geological Survey told The New York Times.

The 9.0 magnitude quake (the fourth-largest recorded since 1900) was caused when the Pacific tectonic plate dove under the North American plate, which shifted Eastern Japan towards North America by about 13 feet (see NASA's before and after photos at right). The quake also shifted the earth's axis by 6.5 inches, shortened the day by 1.6 microseconds, and sank Japan downward by about two feet. As Japan's eastern coastline sunk, the tsunami's waves rolled in.

Why did the quake shorten the day?  The earth's mass shifted towards the center, spurring the planet to spin a bit faster. Last year's massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile also shortened the day, but by an even smaller fraction of a second. The 2004 Sumatra quake knocked a whopping 6.8 micro-seconds off the day.

After the country's 1995 earthquake, Japan placed high-tech sensors around the country to observe even the slightest movements, which is why scientists are able to calculate the quake's impact down to the inch. "This is overwhelmingly the best-recorded great earthquake ever," Lucy Jones, chief scientist for the Multi-Hazards project at the U.S. Geological Survey, told The Los Angeles Times.

The tsunami's waves necessitated life-saving evacuations as far away as Chile. Fisherman off the coast of Mexico reported a banner fishing day Friday, and speculated that the tsunami knocked sealife in their direction.


"I am stunned by the power of nature, the vastness of the damage and the feebleness of humanity. I urge us, everyone, to take this as a moment to recognize our arrogance in thinking that we can control nature."

14 March, 2011


"Things aren't beautiful all on their own.
Beautiful comes from reflection.
Beautiful takes a person who makes a connection.
You know what I mean?
For beautiful to happen, the beautiful has got to be seen."

by Adam Gwon

11 March, 2011


As we woke up this morning and opened The Huffington Post, as we do almost every morning, we are shocked to see that an 8.9 Earthquake has struck Japan, followed shortly by a massive tsunami. There are breaking headlines, there are devastating photos, there are unbelievable videos.

There are even warnings for the entire Pacific basin - including Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast. Hundreds of bodies have been found already; thousands of people are missing. This happened at 2:46 PM Japan local time; children were in school, people were at work, life was bustling, it was not a quiet time of day.

My god. I cannot even imagine it. My heart breaks and my stomach turns when I think of what these people and that country are going through right now.

I flip on the television to get updated coverage. (Surely they'll be reporting on this!) And my stomach turns again when this is what I find:

CBS - A young good-looking doctor informing me on How to Treat a Sore Throat with popsicles. NBC - A woman of a certain age who has glowing skin and bright eyes Demystifying the Myths of Skin Care for me. FOX - Three colleagues/friends laughing and talking about Foods That Help You Fall Asleep

I don't even know what to say.