An article in the WaPo examines the path of Lewis and Clark: The bicentennial of Clark’s famous journal entry is also an occasion to see what has changed along the route of the Corps of Discovery — and what has hardly changed at all. More than anything else, the great rivers of the West — the Missouri and the Columbia, the primary highways of the Lewis & Clark Expedition — have been fundamentally remade. The rivers, as the explorers knew them, were put to death by federal dams and resurrected as plumbing.
Sam at Golden Rule Jones points to a Wall Street Journal Story (subs only) about the drinking habits of James Bond in text vs. on the screen: Fleming knew that in drink no less than food, it pays to play to an establishment’s strength. When Bond grabs a roadhouse lunch with Felix Leiter in "Diamonds Are Forever," he doesn’t waste time elucidating the comparative virtues of shaking vs. stirring; he just orders a beer (a Miller High Life, at that). When in Jamaica, 007 favors gin-and-tonics extra heavy on juice from the island’s fresh limes. When Bond trails Auric Goldfinger to Geneva, he relaxes with a tot of Enzian, "the firewater distilled from gentian," the root of an Alpine wildflower. In the Athens airport he knocks back Ouzo; in Turkey it’s Raki. At Saratoga racetrack, he drinks Old-Fashioneds and "Bourbon and branch" (i.e., water). And when Bond goes out to lunch in London, he orders one of the most distinctively British of drinks, a Black Velvet. Equal parts champagne and Guinness stout, a Black Velvet might sound awful, but proves to be startlingly good in the drinking — I find it tastes curiously and deliciously like hard cider.
Both Sarah and Carrie have made excellent posts recently about just how hard it is to finish a decent first novel (or rewrite the first draft into one). It’s nice to know you have fellow travelers…
Ghost Word has an excellent write-up of a recent event where Dave Eggers interviewed Joan Didion. Eggers focused in on Didion’s relationship with the recently(ish) deceased John Gregory Dunne: “We were absolutely each others first readers on everything. First, and certainly in my case, first and last.” For a writer, that kind of support is remarkable, and may help explain the sheer volume and quality of Didion’s writing. The couple spent their days next to one another – or at least in nearby rooms – and could rely on an astute, yet sympathetic critic to look at their work.