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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Saturday, October 01, 2005

watching shows, finishing books

When I sat down to compose my post yesterday, I received a notice from Blogger.com that the site would be down for an hour. I retreated to post another day.

Sunshine has returned. I just walked down to Blockbuster Video at Park & Tilford shopping center to pick up disc 1 in the DVD series for season 2 of The West Wing, a show Kimmie and I are watching and enjoying--much more than we thought we would. As I watched all 22 episodes of season 1 I was astonished to see that they were almost all written by the show's creator Aaron Sorkin. As a TV series writer-creator myself, I have some idea of what that entails--and I (co)wrote only 13 half-hours for all of our season 1. His days must have been grueling. And with that many episodes in a season, you don't get much of a breather before the next year--perhaps none, since the more prepared you are as you go in, the fewer guns you have pointing at your temple as the season wears on.

Anyway, I find myself inspired by the show, which is how one should be affected by a work of art. It should provoke your mind and your heart with questions about what is important, about how to live life.

A couple of days ago I finished reading a book (not that common for me): Coal: A People's History by Barbara Freese. I thought it was very good. Freese, an assistant attorney general of Minnesota, is also an environmentalist, but I believe she treated her subject fairly, and has delivered a well-written and engaging introduction to this important commodity. I bought the book partly because of my own environmentalist leanings, and partly out of an interest in economic commodities. As I am also learning from A History of Technology, history is shaped to an even greater extent than we might think by technological change. Coal, the first fossil fuel to be widely exploited, essentially launched Britain's career as an industrial and political leader of the world.

I also am retiring one of my vocabulary-building bookmarks: it's covered on both sides with words and their definitions written in my small, cartoonist's majuscules. The first word on the bookmark: enjambment (running-over of a sentence from one verse or couplet into another so that closely related words fall in different lines). I don't remember now what book I was reading when I looked up that word. It might have been years ago. The last word on side 2: pintle (a usually upright pivot pin on which another part turns). I believe this word was from David Rohl's From Eden to Exile.

I'll review the words and their definitions, trying to impress them on my memory, then drop the bookmark in the recycling bag. I have no need for a full bookmark.


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