Category Archives: New Mexico

Playing Catch Up (Again)

Augh! Sorry about the lack of posts here — the last few weeks have been a bit of a blur.

When I last left you — back in mid-October — I was giving you a heads up about the interview I taped with the super cool Tavis Smiley.  The interview did indeed run on October 18/19 — and if you missed it, you can see it right here.

I had a great time at Tavis Smiley, and it’s another one of those shows that runs like a well-oiled machine: quick, easy, and over much too fast. When I was finished, he very sweetly asked if I would sign his copy of Jim’s biography — and when I asked who I should make it out to (left to my own devices, I would’ve probably written “To Mr. Smiley”), he said gently, “Why, to Tavis — who else?” Awesome.

RipleyThe next week, I had the great privilege of speaking to a sold out crowd at the Smithsonian, where they know a thing or two about the importance of the Muppets to American History.  I spoke at the S. Dillon Ripley Center (the entrance to which you can see there at right — the gigantic facility itself is underground), which — perhaps appropriately — is where I saw the Jim Henson’s Fantastic World exhibit back in 2008, and met several of the Hensons for the first time.  My talk was called “More Than Muppets,” which let me cover a lot of Jim’s early TV commercial work and experimental projects like Cyclia, Time Piece, Youth 68, The Cube, as well as later projects like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. All in all, it was a lot of fun, with a lot of good questions and conversation afterwards.

The morning after my Smithsonian talk, I got a plane and headed for Albuquerque, New Mexico, to do a quick Home Town Tour, which — thanks to the Herculean skills of my pal Marron — involved me making lots of TV and radio appearances, speaking at several bookstores (including Page One and Bookworks) and giving presentations at a number of schools, including my high school (Go Eagles!) and college (Go Lobos!) alma maters.  In another fitting bit of full circle serendipity, my talk at the University of New Mexico made the front page of the Daily Lobo, the college newspaper where I spent every night of my college career serving as Night Editor:


No, that’s not a photo of me on the front of the Daily Lobo — though my wife pointed out that I DO slightly resemble the puppet. (Bonus points if you applauded the photo bomb by the Frontier soda cup….)

I also had the pleasure of spending my last evening in the state in Santa Fe, speaking at Collected Works Bookstore and Coffeehouse, followed by an outstanding dinner party hosted by my friend and BIO colleague (and crack biographer of Pulitzer, to name but a few) James McGrath Morris.

I’m now back in the chair at my desk in Maryland, though only for a moment — now that I’ve done my home town, I’m spending the next week doing Jim’s, heading first for Leland, Mississippi and then over to University Park, Maryland.

Random Abstract

Once again, apologies for neglecting the ol’ blog.  I’ve been away, but not idle.  Here’s a rundown on what’s happened over the last 13 days:

– I turned a year older, and celebrated my birthday by painting the concrete floor of our living room, mowing the lawn, and having dinner with my wife and my dad.  The perfect way to spend one’s birthday, if I may so.  And I do say so.

– I had an incredibly productive day at the Library of Congress, running down some long-lost newspaper stories and advertisements related to Project Blue Harvest.  Nothing major, but lots of little things that make those Wow, I Didn’t Know That moments that give your subject life.

– I finished reading The Road to Xanadu, the first book in Simon Callow’s masterful biography of Orson Welles.  Next up: part two, Hello, Americans!

– I had two exciting conversations relating to Washington Irving: An American Original — and hope to have something to tell you here shortly.

– I replaced my peezacrap eight-year-old HP laptop — which weighs 300 pounds, has a loose ‘Y’ key, and will only open documents in Safe Mode — with a much lighter, quicker, and convenient MacBook.

– And finally, I’m leaving for New Mexico tomorrow to enjoy a bit of R&R, visit my Mom, see my brother (who just happens to be in Albuquerque this week for his high school reunion) and his family, hang out with my pals, and come whizzing back to Maryland with my kid, who’s been out west all summer.  And don’t get between me and the big steaming plate of Los Cuates’ carne adovada I’m having mere moments after my plane lands.  Because I will knock you down.  Hard.