There’s a new independent bookstore in Columbus — always something to be happy about! Gramercy Books has apparently been open since December, but I didn’t know until this week.
And Gramercy Books, a pleasant store with an attached cafe in Bexley, also now has signed copies of my two fantasy novels available.
There are a few other independent bookstores here, including the local treasure The Book Loft, but this is the first one to open in a long time. Here’s a link to an article from the Columbus Dispatch about a resurgence in sales at independent bookstores.
The Dingle Peninsula is in County Kerry. It’s the farthest west you can go in Ireland. It’s a place of steep cliffs dropping into the sea, sandy beaches, and green pastures dotted with a lot of sheep. There are archaeological ruins, including ogham stones and Dunbeg Fort, an Iron Age promontory fort built right above the sea. We were blessed with warm weather and sun our first day, then rain and a blast of wind the following morning.
The Slea Head Drive is a circular route around the edge — in some places the very edge — of the peninsula. It’s traveled in a one-way manner in a clockwise direction, because the roads in some places are narrow enough they won’t fit two cars. If you do encounter someone going the opposite way, one of the vehicles must back up until there’s a wide spot. This happened twice while we were there, once while we were a few feet away from a low stone wall on the edge of the cliff. That was unnerving. I’m glad I wasn’t the driver!
There were a few bicyclists as well, on what must be an extremely demanding ride.
Dingle Town itself (An Daingean) — permanent population about 2,000 — is crowded with tourists in the summer. It’s got a harbor with a permanent dolphin resident named Fungie. We didn’t take a boat trip to see Fungie, but his statue is in the town center, so we feel we know what he looks like. Fungie was first seen in the harbor in 1983, and is known for being friendly to humans. Is it still the original Fungie? Here’s a link to a story in the Independent on that subject.
Dingle Town itself is the base for tourists wanting to explore the region. In spite of being a Gaeltacht, a place where Irish is the official language, English is commonly spoken in town. The Gaeltacht was created to preserve the Irish language. I’m told schoolchildren from around Ireland spend time here in the summers, learning their native tongue. It seems the use of Irish is declining, though. Here’s a link to a 2008 article discussing the challenges of trying to preserve the language.
In July, Dingle was full of flowers. Fuchsia, in particular, bloomed everywhere.
And below, a last look at the green hills of Ireland. The sheep had mostly been shorn when we were in Dingle. Many were marked with blazes of color — bright reds, blues, greens — so the owners could distinguish their own sheep when it was time to retrieve them again from common fields on the mountainsides.
I’m not feeling well, so I won’t be able to make the local authors’ book signing in Poland, Ohio today.
The event still runs from 9 am to 1 pm. If you’re in the area, stop by and support your local authors.
Happy Fourth of July weekend!
Update 07-01-2017: Sorry I won’t be able to make this book-signing, since I’m not feeling well. Looking forward to another time, I hope.
I’ll be part of a local author book signing and sale at the Poland Library on Saturday, July 1. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. It runs from 9 am to 1 pm that day.
This event is in conjunction with the Celebrate Poland weekend. The event will be held at the Poland branch of the library, 311 S Main St, Poland, Ohio.
If you’re in the area, stop in and say hi! I’ll have both of my fantasy novels available, and the Locothology and For the Road anthologies as well.
This should be a post about writing, but it’s not! Instead it’s about my visit to the Stephen F Udvar-Hazy Center, which is part of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. This is a separate facility from the one on the National Mall, located near Dulles Airport. And it’s full of amazing things, even for someone like me who doesn’t know much about aeronautics or space flight.
There are two huge hangars for display of hundreds of spacecraft and planes, as well as windows looking into the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar. The Concorde is there, as well as a variety of vintage passenger and military aircraft, a U-2, and space-related items like a Sojourner Mars rover.
The space shuttle Discovery is here as well:
Here’s a link to a Washington Post video of Discovery arriving at the Udvar-Hazy Center in 2012.
There are plenty of historical exhibits relating to space flight, including early capsules, a SpaceLab module and Mars rovers.
The Enola Gay is also at Udvar-Hazy. The Enola Gay is the aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945. It’s one of the many military aircraft that are at the museum, a reminder that the history of aviation and space flight is about exploration and science, but is also inextricably linked to war.
I’ve always had a great time at the Artists of the Rust Belt shows in Youngstown. The next one will be held Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4 at the B&O Station on Mahoning Avenue in Youngstown.
The building is an old train station, built in 1905. It’s home to the Rust Belt Brewing Company and a great location for occasional artists’ shows put on by Artists of the Rust Belt.
If you’re in the area, stop in and say hi! I’ll have my two novels available for signing, as well as two anthologies that include stories of mine.
Here’s a link to the event page on Facebook.
A few flowers from the Columbus Park of Roses yesterday.
Colossal is a psychological drama and a monster movie. There’s some magical realism in there. I’m really not sure of the odd mix of genres that make up this fascinating movie. But is that a bad thing — a movie that doesn’t fall into a predefined market niche? Not in this case.
Anne Hathaway gives a powerful performance as the movie’s main character Gloria, who’s in trouble. Addiction to alcohol has destroyed Gloria’s career and gotten her kicked out of her boyfriend’s apartment. She returns to her childhood home, where she meets up with an old acquaintance and starts work at his bar (!) while she tries to figure out what’s next.
Meanwhile, across the world, a huge monster appears, terrorizing the people of Seoul, South Korea as if we were in a Godzilla movie. Gradually, Gloria realizes this creature’s appearances have something to do with her life on the other side of the world.
It’s at about that point that I suspended disbelief and went where the movie took me. Which was a really winding path that surprised me several times.
This movie is imaginative, chilling, rewarding. It’s full of metaphor, and yet it’s very real and immediate. It handles lots of issues — alcoholism, bad relationships, and self-empowerment — but it always stays entertaining.
Jason Sudeikis’ performance as Oscar is brilliant and downright frightening. And I’ll leave the description at that! The best way to see this movie is to just go and enjoy.
If you want to read more about Colossal, here’s a link to the movie website.
I’m looking forward to Columbus State Community College’s 2017 Writer’s Conference this Saturday, May 6. I’ll have a table there with my books available for sale.
The keynote speaker will be Maggie Smith, a poet, freelance writer and editor from Columbus. There will also be workshops and a book fair with several writers, writers’ groups and independent presses.
If you’re there, stop by and say hi!
It must be Spring. Here’s a redbud branch in full bloom. Also, as I recently learned, called a “Judas Tree”.