Odds and Ends

It’s funny, when I started this blog several years ago, I was fairly good about updating and posting — on a good week, I might post three times, sometimes daily.  At the time I was doing the political job by day, while promoting Washington Irving and working behind the scenes on Jim Henson. And I thought, “Man, if I ever get to the point where I can stay home and write full time, I can blog daily! I’ll be a blogging machine!”

Yeah.  Well.  Not so much, sorry.  But I think you’ll thank me in the end, since it means I’m devoting more of my writing time to my current project than to the blog.  Still, that’s not to say there isn’t plenty else going on.  Like for instance:

–  Early registration is already open for the second annual Biographers International Organization (BIO) conference, which will take place in Washington, DC on May 21, 2011.  Home base for the event will be the National Press Club, but conference sessions will also be held at the National Archives and the Library of Congress.  More information — including a tentative list of panels — is available at the BIO website, by clicking here.

– Barb and I attended an absolutely spectacular lecture at the Smithsonian the other night, where we got to listen to Bob Hirst, the general editor of the new Mark Twain Autobiography, discuss Twain’s life, work, and the problems an editor stumbles across when trying to decide exactly what is meant by an “authoritative” autobiography.  To a packed house at the Natural History Museum, Hirst showed photos of Twain’s original typed manuscripts, which had been written on by Twain, corrected by later typists, smudged by typesetters, and revised by previous editors who thought they knew better than Twain how to tell his life story.  Looking at the mess on each page, it was sometimes unclear which corrections were Twain’s — was the slash through a comma, for instance, really his correction or that of a later editor? — which really made you appreciate the hard work, and the detective work, that goes into a project like this.

– This Saturday, we’re attending a showing of A Christmas Carol over at Ford’s Theatre.  It’s one of those things that’s become something of a Christmas tradition with us, in the same way that we always watch Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas or A Christmas Story. Plus it’s an opportunity to go see the Christmas trees for each state over at the White House, and the huge tree at the Capitol.  The only wrench in the plan right now is the weather.  It was a whopping 19 degrees this morning here in Maryland, which is not conducive to strolls on the Mall.

– Finally, here’s a really interesting piece on Herman Melville over in the New York Times, courtesy of my colleague — and 19th century historian and fellow political speech writer — Ted Widmer.

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