Edgar Allan Poe Festival – 2015

Courtesy: Riverhead BID

This weekend marks the second annual Edgar Allan Poe Festival in Riverhead, New York. A parade on Main Street kicks off the festivities tonight at 7 p.m.

The Festival is sponsored by The Town of Riverhead and The Riverhead BID. The festival has been created by St. George Living History Productions.

On Halloween, Trick or Treat on Main Street begins at 11 am and continues until 3 pm. There will be musicals, story times, tours, family games, and readings. Members of the New York chapter of Mystery Writers of America will be available at the Dark Horse Restaurant starting at 11 am for book sales and signings.

On Sunday, beginning at 12 noon, members of the Long Island Sisters in Crime will be available for book sales and signing, also at the Dark Horse Restaurant.


At the Vail Leavitt Music Hall at 12:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, a one-act play depicting a fictitious meeting between three classic writers of the macabre: Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley, in “The Ghost Writers.”

Poe-inspired menus will be available all weekend at the Blue Duck Bakery, the Dark Horse Restaurant, Uncle Joe’s Restaurant, Sonoma Grill, Joe’s Garage, and more.

Readings will be done all weekend long. I’m proud to be reading some of Poe’s poetry; “Spirits of the Dead,” at 12:30 pm at the Sonoma Grill, and “Alone” at Joe’s Garage at 2 pm, both on Sunday, November 1st.

According to northforker.com, here’s a list of “5 ‘don’t miss’ events” at the festival.

For a complete listing of events, click here.

Follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Indulge the Creative Fire of Boredom!

Art by R. Ramiro of redmuseum.net

Art by R. Ramiro of redmuseum.net

What is it with me and the milieu of uncomfortable topics? Recently,  I was posting about creative people Letting Go and Moving On, and the accompanying grief. Perhaps it’s the hottest of the long summer days that inspires me now to address…without further, well, anything… the scintillating topic of boredom!

From “Life Without Boredom Would Be a Nightmare,” an article for Aeon by Andreas Elpidorou :

Pain is not the only unpleasant experience that humans are subject to. What about boredom? Might it serve some useful purpose, too? It certainly has no shortage of philosophical defenders. Bertrand Russell and the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips both spoke of the importance of being able to endure it. Russell asserted that the capacity to weather boredom is ‘essential to a happy life’, whereas Phillips speculated on its developmental significance for children. Friedrich Nietzsche commented on the creative power of boredom and found value in its relationship to art. So did Susan Sontag, who in a brief diary entry suggested that the most interesting art of her time was boring: ‘Jasper Johns is boring. Beckett is boring, Robbe-Grillet is boring. Etc. Etc. […] Maybe art has to be boring, now.’

Martin Heidegger discussed, at length, the ontological lessons that profound boredom can teach us. And the poet Joseph Brodsky, in what might be the most famous and sustained defence of boredom, exalted its existential import. In his commencement address to the class of 1989 at Dartmouth College, he called boredom a ‘window on time’s infinity’ and spoke of its ability to put our existence into perspective, to demonstrate to us our finitude and indeed the futility of our actions….

Elpidorou further explains how the mechanism of boredom changes our perception of time, sets off an internal alarm, creates an alternate line of thinking which, therefore, becomes responsively active, like the physical withdrawal from painful stimuli. Go read it all for some stuff your bored mind might enjoy chewing upon.

I think of boredom as one of the plucked strings of divine discontentment, whose grating tone pushes me to move when I can’t tolerate the dischord anymore. It always worked that way for me as a kid, too, that kind of dissatisfied cloud-gazing because I couldn’t think of a single better thing… until I did. I wonder, with the solidly-packed schedules of activities and pre-defined, fully-realized entertainment of modern kids, when they get the benefit of developing their imaginations in idleness and also to stage their own ambitious responses to boredom.

When I looked up famous quotes on boredom, what I mostly found were notable, quite high-achieving types talking about how they’d never, ever been bored, and how it represented some kind of moral failing and lack of curiosity and enterprise. Oh, Blah and pull the other one! I frankly call out this this positioning of virtue as BS. I consider that if you’ve never been bored–admit it, you have!– you’ve never gotten your mind out of first-gear. Case in point: my Boston Terrier, Tessie, who has loved her purple squid toy for years. We can play with it daily, and it’s never not new and wonderful. Every toss is a fresh joy. This is one of her undeniable charms, her in-the-now ness. But if I were trying to, say, write a story, this plotline seems to lack something: There was a dog with a purple squid… and then a squid… oh, and then there was a squid… how about adding a squid here? Not exciting? Well perhaps more purple squid is what this story needs!

Dynamism is the result, the solution of tension, and boredom applies tension. Sure, you may be the type of person who recognizes and intervenes quickly to stuff something you value more into the void represented by boredom, but boredom is inflicted upon us and against our wills by waiting rooms, bureaucracy, incompetence, well-meaning fairness, the weather, people who aren’t jumping to the end of a process with us and need our company from square one. Internal boredom with ourselves is what happens when there’s something wrong we haven’t named yet, perhaps something so wrong that even contemplating fixing it is so exhausting or intimidating that it brings on the anxiety-releasing yawns that are also shorthand for boredom.

I also think the time dilation that Elpidorou notes is a tell, an indicator that boredom is a kind of stirring intellectual impatience, a desire to jump ahead to the “good part.” Yes, when indulged, that can show up as bad behavior and lousy attitudes in the immature (also, I’d say an inability to conceive or appreciate intricacies of process or investments over time). But among the emotionally growed-up, who appreciate that some things do take time, some of the best things even, and who try not to make the world suffer for our very personal foibles, these transient, disinterested moments of mental drift, when it’s too frustrating to engage with the now, can be surprisingly creative. They can be problem-solving. And often, we must have this kind of useful torture inflicted upon us, because we refuse willingly to incur idleness or rest on our own.

The-Idlers-CompanionYou can go look up boredom’s many scolds yourself. As an antidote, I offer this collection of essays, The Idler’s Companion: An Anthology of Lazy Literature, which looks like it’s had a couple of different covers since the one I got. Probably, the editors and publisher got bored with previous editions. Here’s the scoop:

More than 50 authors celebrate the independent spirit struggling against the drudgery of the work ethic. The essays, poetry and fiction excerpts in this anthology are filled with convincing arguments for reclaiming our days from the monotony of the working world. These persuasive voices prove that although Idlers reject conventional labor, their time is well spent…. Sometimes humorous, sometimes thought-provoking, this anthology of essays, poetry, and fiction extolls the virtues of the life of idleness. It is divided into four sections by type of idler: courtier, monk, unemployed, and epicurean. The eloquently lazy contributors range from Samuel Johnson and Michel de Montaigne to Bertrand Russell, Friedrich Nietzsche, Henry David Thoreau (who argues forcefully against a life of excessive labor), and G.K. Chesterton, who muses on lying in bed and having a pencil long enough to write on the ceiling. This little volume is sure to provide a few pleasurable hours of intense intellectual idleness.

Hat tip: Arts & Letters Daily. 

Also, the leading image appears at The Writers Bucket List. Regardless of the pain evidenced in Lauren Tharp’s (@lilzotzwrite) post with tips on how to live through a dull freelancing gig, the death shown above is entirely metaphorical.

Boredom doesn’t have the power to kill you. It can only provoke you to murder it.

Poirot and Tisanes for Me and Thee

Need-Another-Tisane-PoirotFor some reason, I’d forgotten about Hercule Poirot’s tisanes, otherwise known as herbal teas, often intended to have medicinal properties. They’re a big thing for him, perhaps how he thrives amid such rich gastronomy, and a pleasure to which I’ve only recently returned.

Over at Ellen Seltz’s Writer Blog, discreet inquiry, she has some delicious-sounding musings around the canny Belgian’s preferences, even if perhaps thought “noxious” by Captain Hastings:

He is mentioned in “The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb” as being inordinately fond of Chamomile tea, which has a very delicate greeny-floral taste.

The link to another “fatal” tisane also looks great, but I was most thrilled to be reminded the brilliant Hercule shares my current passion for this other flower in the famed echinacea family. I was recently drinking some chamomile tea, purely for the pleasures of the herb-y taste, and was later surprised by how supple it made me feel, having (I learned) natural anti-inflammatories along with its myriad other benefits. I also discovered, oddly enough, that one of my dogs with a chronically itchy skin condition is soothed by being sprayed with cooled chamomile tea. So here’s to Poirot, who knows what the heck he’s on about, as if that were ever in question!

Zentangle for the Writer’s Mind

Since my writing is a time machine post, my deadlines loom, gigantic and hot-breathed. What needs accomplishing matters to me. However, it’s the kind of stuff that doesn’t benefit, in my case, from a frantic mind. Being wound up about it only hitches me in the doing, then slows me down later by needing more revisions or corrections. But only a day ago, I was reading something very engaging, and when I looked up, I was shocked to see how few minutes had passed. I’d gotten so much out of it, I’d have sworn it took longer. As I’m reminded Einstein famously said: When you are courting a nice girl, an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder, a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.

Be a Helping Hand Zentangle, orginally from mariannesmusings-ut.blogspot.ca

Be a Helping Hand Zentangle, orginally from mariannesmusings-ut.blogspot.ca

So, when I started feeling that creeping sense of time-as-panic, I consciously stopped myself to unwind and re-focus. Perverse, maybe? But for me effective. If you’re not familiar with zentangles, the most basic idea is combining patterns of lines and fills within larger shapes. To the left is one easy idea to start: trace your hand and fill it in. See how the repetitive, but not-too-impossible to draw patterns create lots of interest together. Gaze at loads more zentangles on Pinterest if you want to be wowed by the diverse and gorgeous ways people are using them in crafts and artwork. Zentangles can range from beautifully spare and simple to profusely complex and textural, but they’re easy to jump into, and can be a nice mental break from whatever. Because I specifically was looking for release from that feeling of not having enough time–the tick-tock that leaves me jittery, counting seconds rather than working productively–I decided to give mine some personal symbolism.

A Zentangle I drew to stop my self-inflicted, quality-killing time pressure and to re-focus on having a peaceful, productive mind.

A Zentangle I drew to stop my self-inflicted, quality-killing time pressure and to re-focus on having a peaceful, productive mind.

They go faster than you think, and this one’s just in my little moleskine, so it’s only 5 inches square anyway, but if you look closely at the sections at 11 and 5 o’clock, you’ll see more of the stuff I was purging.

Below the C of Peace, I wrote NOW, NOW, NOW until it turned into jagged lines and a circle that didn’t mean anything scary anymore.

Below the C of Peace, I wrote NOW, NOW, NOW until it turned into jagged lines and a circle that didn’t mean anything scary anymore.

The ribbon trailing down from 11 o’clock swirls with so many tiny “go”s that I got tired of cracking the whip on myself.

The ribbon trailing down from 11 o’clock swirls with so many tiny “go”s that I got tired of cracking the whip on myself.

For the writer, eventually everything has to happen on the page. If it doesn’t get there, it doesn’t matter. But the time spent not writing, not even thinking (taking a walk, washing the dishes, etc.) can be critical to the final product, too. The next time you need to concentrate rather than dithering, or have been plowing the same barren field of thoughts, think about taking a break for a quick, brain-cleansing zentangle!

Friday Fun: Public Service Announcement

BULLETIN: Warm weather really is expected to return, eventually, in all the loveliness of this picture below. (Maybe this cold snap’s what got me writing about the coming of spring in fairy tales?)

Reading in the Garden by Susan Ricker Knox, USA (1874-1959)

Reading in the Garden by Susan Ricker Knox, USA (1874-1959)

And speaking of women reading as a most inspiring theme for art, there’s a whole collection of 50 (?) gorgeous paintings on the subject at The Sleepless Reader‘s blog. There are some very cozy ones there, too, and for a moment as I look at them, I forget my chilly feet. Okay, let’s have just one more sunny one, with beachfront even.

Bridget Reading (1959) by Peter Samuelson, U.K. (1912-1996)

Bridget Reading (1959) by Peter Samuelson, U.K. (1912-1996)

Dream on and Happy Friday!

Is She Bragging About the Grandkids Again?

nancydrewWhy yes. Yes I am.

Very recently two of my granddaughters, aged eight and ten “reviewed” a couple of graphic novels and I incorporated their commentary into a post on Criminal Element. You can read it here. What I found most interesting is the fact that I thought I could tell you exactly what each of the girls would say about the books they read. Turns out, I was wrong. My gift book purchasing powers have been refined, and, for that, I am sure, all my grand kids will be grateful.


Friday Reads: Now Write! Mysteries

On Fridays (and every other day of the week, actually) Twitter fans share what they are currently reading, using the hashtag #FridayReads (there is also a website dedicated to “Friday Reads“and on Twitter @FridayReadsWin and Facebook). I wanted to share with you such an outstanding book that I am reading ~ the one I shared today on Twitter as my “FridayReads” selection.

This book is SO awesome, that when I found it in my library earlier this week, I of course borrowed it ~ but by the time I got home I promptly went online and ordered it. I HAD to own this valuable collection!
It is called Now Write! Mysteries: Suspense, Crime, Thriller, and Other Mystery Fiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. It is edited by Sherry Ellis and Laurie Lamson, the editors of Now Write! Screenwriting.

The collection, which is published by Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, is described on the back cover:

The essential handbook for writers of whodunits, techno-thrillers, cozies, and everything in between — featuring never-before-published personal writing exercises from some of today’s bestselling and most award-winning mystery writers.
So ~ I enthusiastically suggest that you borrow it from your library, order your own copy or e-version. You won’t regret it!
What’s your #FridayReads?
Come follow me on Twitter @katcop13.

Happy Zombie Friday!!

It is Friday, April 13th and you know what that means–anything can happen. Well I have it on good authority (Sleuthsister Deb) that the Zombie Apocalypse draws near. Are you ready? Can you handle it? Click here to find the many ways you can protect yourself and your loved ones before it is too late.

Good luck and may we all be safe and happy when the sun rises on April 14th.


Sorry for the Interruption…

Sorry for yesterday’s outage, everyone…we’re back up and running…and in a few days we will be five years old. Crazy, right?

It’s Friday, so time for something funny. While the US Supreme Court ponders health insurance, the Lithuanians have come to what I firmly believe to be the best legal decision of the year: that brewing beer is such an essential service that brewers should not be able to strike. More on the craziness at either Criminal Element or Lowering the Bar.

So have a Carlsberg and toast to the Lithuanians!