Friday, May 29, 2009

Reading, writing, & fighting for rights links

Actor Cynthia Nixon, writer/poet Maya Angelou and others are calling New York state senators to try to persuade them to vote for the same-sex marriage bill. Angelou told the New York Times:
I would ask every man and every woman who's had the blessing of having children, 'Would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?' ... To love someone takes a lot of courage. So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, 'I forbid you from loving this person'?
Saturday and Sunday, May 30-31, are the annual NYC Lit Mag Marathon Weekend, sponsored by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. The marathon part is Saturday--or rather, the Magathon, a lineup of readings from some two dozen literary magazines. I probably won't get to that, but I'm going to try my damnedest to get to part two, the literary magazine fair on Sunday at the Housing Works Bookstore in Soho. The big draw is an array of lit mags from around the country, every copy on sale for only $2. I've gone several times and always lose all control, leaving with a big bag full of lit journals. It's a weird experience for me, because it's absolutely packed with people and everyone seems to be having a grand time and know everyone else and be engaged in witty conversation full of high-culture fabulousness, while I know no one and feel all awkward and lonely and sore-thumbish, and just dart from table to table grabbing lit mags and then get the hell out of there and drag my bag home to Queens. But it's worth the social discomfort to get my hands on the loot. If you're going, get there early--it starts at noon--because those $2 copies disappear fast. Also, if you have more nerve than me, are better at shmoozing, or simply know how to start conversations with strangers, lots of journal editors are on hand to talk to.

This I find thrilling. I printed it out a couple weeks ago but only got a chance to read a couple days ago. When I did I began trembling with excitement. A chemist has found, it seems, through a series of relatively straightforward laboratory experiments, how, 3.8 billion years ago, some chemicals might have come together naturally and accidentally to create a new chemical compound: the first living cells. The origin of life on Earth. Wow.

I watched the documentary on the History Channel last weekend. Now will I buy the book The Link? On the one hand, why bother since the TV show was a predigested version? On the other hand, what am I saying? The book is undoubtedly richer, fuller, more interesting and complex. Just because it's a book and the TV show was fairly well dumbed down. I do love reading about evolution. And I've read previous works by Colin Tudge, who's a good writer. And this is a fascinating story, about the discovery and study of a 47-million-old unprecedentedly complete mammalian fossil that, after many years of study, scientists have now concluded is that of an ancestral primate species from before the great apes and the lemur family lines split. Our ancestor, in other words. So yeah, this one's made its way onto my to-read list.