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Today in My History

2001:  Our Town Revisited
Friday Five
 Piņata People
2004:  Need-to-Know Basis
2005: Joe Btfslpk
2006:  That's My Famly
2007:   "Things"
2008:  Blackout!
2009:  Failings
2010:  Blue Skies
2011:  On My O.W.N.
Not Quite Charng Cross
2013: Feeling Old

Bitter Hack
Updated: 1
Santaland Diaries

Books Read in 2014
"The Ocean at the End of the Lane"

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mail to Walt


5 January 2014

Today was my 4th meeting as an official member of the Woodland Shakespeare Book Club.  It has not been a stellar membership thusfar.  I missed the first meeting because I was doing something with my mother.  The rules are that you must attend every meeting unless you contact the president and let her know you won't be coming.  That means that generally at least 40 and perhaps more women will be at every meeting. (Today people could bring guests so nearly 80 people were there)

The second meeting was a discussion of the book "Ramona," which I did a marathon reading on, finishing at about 6 a.m. the morning of the meeting.   But I enjoyed it and was disappointed that there wasn't more actual group discussion of the book.

Last month we read Jack London's "Valley of the Moon," which I simply could not get into.  By the time of the meeting I had read only about 1/4 of it, but that was OK because there was no discussion of the book by the membership in general, just by the four women who were doing a presentation about the book.

The club really needs Ned's friend Greg, and I'm surprised his good friend, who got me into the club, hasn't talked to him.  The room where we meet is so big, and the women who "present" each month are not trained actors, so they must use a microphone, but the sound system is so crappy it's often impossible to hear them over the distortion of the mics (combined with their unfamiliarity with how to use a mic).   But I strain and I do hear some of what is being said and it is usually quite interesting.

The book for this month was "The Geography of Home," which I gather is an anthology of poems about California.  I ordered it at the start of December and what with all the busy-ness of the month of December, it was only last week when I realized it had never come.  I contacted Amazon, which contacted the book store that was going to sell it to me, and I got the order canceled and my money refunded.   So I was going to the meeting without having even seen the book, much less read any of it.

Before the actual program started, we were given homework to do...actually work to do while there.  We were supposed to write two poems, following the directions given.  For the first one, you were to write down the name of a place where you live or have lived.
- On the second line, write two adjectives which describe the place
- On the third line, write three verbs which signify some sort of action in that place
- On the fourth line, create a phrase that gives more identity to the place.
- On the fifth line, either rewrite the name in the first line or create another descriptive sentence.

The example given was:

First Avenue, Crockett
Changed, decayed
hilly, small, empty
Gone are the families and merchants I knew
The generations of my Irish family lived there for over 140 years

If you check the third line, you'll see that "hilly, small, empty" are NOT verbs, and the English teacher who wrote the assignment apologized for writing adverbs instead of verbs and told us to use verbs.  But...uh...I think "hilly, small, and empty" are adjectives, not adverbs!

I did my best, while others around me stared off into space making no attempt to write anything.  I guess we were going to share at the end of the meeting.

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The presentation was again by four women, each of whom chose 3 poems to read and to tell a little about the author.  They gave the page number of each poem so you could follow along but, of course, I didn't have the book so could not. The sound system was particularly bad today and one woman chose to read a poem by a Japanese author and could not pronounce any of the Japanese words included in either the bio or the poem.

We broke for "tea" after the first three presentations.   There were egg salad sandwiches and lots and lots of cucumber sandwiches, as well as a nice selection of desserts.

I had decided I was going to leave early because, in all honesty, I couldn't take another minute of inaudible poetry and mentioned as much to my friend, sitting next to me.  She said she also had to leave early and suggested we leave right then, and so we did, sneaking out through the kitchen.  So I don't know how the meeting ended.  But I have ordered next month's book, "Day of the Locust" and fully intend toread it! before the first Saturday in February, so I can feel like I'm participating.  But I did feel like a kid sneaking out of class when I left the hall.

I think this club isn't exactly what I'd been looking for.  It's less my idea of a book club and more my idea of a master class in a certain book.  I was thinking of plush couches and wine and snacks and lots of giggling and sharing secrets and all that sort of thing.  But as a class I am enjoying it and intend to stick with it, but I have also found a small book club that meets in Davis and looks, from the photos, to be more what I had in mind (though they have not met for several months, so they have to gear up again before I can check them out!)


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Joshua Smith was a fine Emcee in the
production of Cabaret we saw tonight.


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