in rayne, prereunion

Thanks for the kind words, everybody. If anyone’s got any good advice for living in D.C. (or Zambia, for that matter, although I suspect that’s in shorter supply among my readership), it will be welcome in the coming months.
I was in Houston yesterday for a story (which explains my absence from last night’s DFWblogs soiree), and now I’m back home in Rayne for a long weekend. At the moment I’m eating fresh Louisiana strawberries and listening to KSIG-AM with Mazie. Good times.
That may or may not change tomorrow, when I go to my 10-year high school reunion. We shall see.

pew fellowship!

Today is a good day.
Check that: today is an extremely good day. Best day in a long while.
Today I was named a fellow of the Pew International Journalism Program. I’ll be spending September, October, and part of December in Washington, D.C., researching and taking classes at Johns Hopkins. And in between, I’ll spend five weeks in Zambia, writing about (okay, read these next few words in a much more somber voice) AIDS and the sexual abuse of school girls.
Like I said, today is a good day.

pernice update

One more reason to like the Pernice Brothers, particularly brother Joe Pernice: this email.
It’s Tuesday, May 20, 2003, which can only mean one thing: Ashmont Records releases the Pernice Brothers’ Yours, Mine and Ours today. Perhaps the greatest positive effect of the release is as follows: Nine months from today, a bumper crop of love-children, a baby-booming new wave will spring forth to save the Social Security system. They will have first names like Monahan and Pinkerton and Stein. They will be as gentle and firm as Superman’s father. They will always look good, and do even better. You might not live to see them come completely into their own, but what you do see will be enough. That nagging something or other that dogs your every step will seem laughable post-YMO. All of your policies will be mature and your souffl

french on newspapers

You think people don’t read newspapers in the U.S.? Try France.
A recent study showed that barely 15 per cent of French adults read a daily newspaper, the lowest rate of any industrialised nation. French newspapers are more expensive…This is largely because of higher distribution costs, an average of eight weeks holiday for journalists, and a 1970s-style union-dominated print system. No French paper ranks among the world’s 30 best-selling titles.
Eight weeks?! Damn.

eat more words dead

Sadly, it looks like Eat More Words has gone under. (If it was ever “over” to begin with.) An email just went out to us early adopters detailing how we can get refunds.
See, when I get rich (as all newspaper reporters do, of course), I’m going to start a fund to support things like Eat More Words — nice little labors of love that could be pushed into reality with just a little financial incentive. Some rich guy should do that now.

the pledge question

Watched The Pledge today. Good movie. But I still have a question, for those who’ve seen it: At the end, do we find out who the bad guy is? If so, who is he? Please leave comments, more observant viewers. (Warning: That means that if you haven’t seen the movie and hope to someday, don’t read the comments.)
Strange happenstance: I remember looking at this web page back in 1994. I even stole one of the images for my very first web page (which was, mercifully, lost to the ages long ago).

super friendz new album

Super Friendz update: Their new album, Love Energy, is due out on June 24 (in Canada, at least, those lucky Canuckys). Says majordomo Matt Murphy:
“One difference that people will see between the last records we’ve made and this one is it’s less an homage to sixties pop and better reflects our record collections. It’s a lot more seventies new wave. There’s no keyboards. That’s kind of a rule we made when we came into the studio this time. It’s guitar driven but we’re also focused on the rhythm too and Kraftwerk ideas without the keyboards.” Interesting.

mary alice fontenot dies

One of the great Cajun storytellers, Mary Alice Fontenot, has died at 93. She wrote the Clovis Crawfish series of children’s books, which I devoured as a kid. They featured a menagerie of swamp creatures — Christophe Cricket, Gaston Grasshopper, Rene Rainfrog, and of course the moral center Clovis (pronounced klo-VEECE). They also featured both dialog in both English and Cajun French — one of the earlier and more successful attempts to pass some of the language along to the next generation of Cajuns.
The books do sort of blend together at this late age, but I particularly remember Clovis Crawfish and the Big Betail, Clovis Crawfish and Etienne Escargot, …and the Curious Crapaud and …and the Singing Cigales. The ultimate classic, of course, is Clovis Crawfish and the Orphan Zo-Zo. (Zo-Zo is the Cajun dialect’s word for “bird,” short for the French “oiseau.” Kelly‘s pet cockatiel is named Zo-Zo in his honor.)
Mary Alice also wrote the only history of Acadia Parish (where we both grew up). She lived about five miles from my house, and she was the first real writer I ever met.
(Cajun aesthetes all know that the Clovis books were miles ahead of their so-so rival, the vaguely insulting Crawfish-Man superhero series. Although I must admit fond memories of Crawfish-Man Rescues Ron Guidry, the story of how our swamp hero saved the 1978 AL Cy Young winner from some sort of peril caused by the villainous Dark Gator.)

no spitting in china

Chinese city bans spitting to combat SARS. I’ve got no idea if this’ll help with the disease, but could Chinese officials please consider making this ban permanent and nationwide? I’ve spent about five weeks in China, and I don’t think there was a single day I wasn’t a few inches away from an errant sputum missile. It made those eight-hour bus rides particularly fun; by the end, the bus floors would be coated with loogies.
Speaking of Chinese hygiene, one of the few times I’ve been truly disgusted was at a wet market like the one Laurie Garrett writes about. I mean seriously — ewwww. I hope to never see animals gutted, their entrails spread out on dirty pavement, and then prepared for human consumption again. The flies, the blood, the filth — quite a spectacle. (Other than that, Songpan was quite nice.)