Month: August 2011

Circles of Influence


I’ve been looking at this illustration for about an hour now. On one simple piece of paper, you can discover the six degrees of separation between Plato and Zadie Smith, J.J. Abrams and Isaac Newton,
and Voltaire and Moby.

It was created for the Debt issue of Longshot Magazine by Michelle Legro of Lapham’s Quarterly, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, and illustrator Wendy MacNaughton. The illustration is meant to chart the “artistic, scientific, and philosophical debts through time.”

It’s a human algorithm that weaves together centuries of creative thought. Sort of mind-blowing, really. I only wish I had paid this close attention in history class! You can hear Legro, Popova and MacNaughton interviewed about the creation of the chart on Longshot Radio.

Copies of the chart are for sale on Etsy.

Thank you!!

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such lovely comments! It means so much to me! I LOVE the linkbacks to your blogs in the new comment form. I spent most of the day yesterday reading all your posts. I know there are millions of sites out there to read, but I want you to know that I’m very thankful you’re here.

I’m still working on my new blogroll. Please let me know if you want to be included!


(Photo by Yeah I love Whales.)

Comments Wanted!


I noticed since I moved from Blogger to WordPress, the number of people leaving comments on my posts have plummeted. It’s very depression, actually. I’ve been feeling very alone on my blog lately.

I know the WordPress comments form isn’t as simple as Blogger’s, but I made a little change that I’m hoping will encourage more people to leave messages.

I installed a plugin called CommentLuv. After you finish typing a comment, it will give you a choice of ten of your own posts that you can link back to on your blog or website.

Give it a try! I want to see if it works!

(Photo by Merezha.)

Keepsakes: Recipes, Mementos, Miscellany


Frances Hansen’s lovely cookbook
1/2 scrapbook, 1/2 recipe file:

Some of my favorite cookbooks are exactly like this: packed with personal tidbits and recipes that date back generations. Frances’s book is collage poem to her family, but dedicated to her readers.

She writes: “I dedicate this book to all those countless home cooks whom continually put a meal on the table with flair, grace & often with an inventiveness that is called for when trying to figure out what to make for dinner.”

I guess that would be me. (Minus the grace & flair part.) I never know what to cook.

Frances Hansen is a regular exhibitor in Australia and New Zealand, works at the Manukau School of Visual Arts, and teaches painting and drawing. You can find Keepsakes: Recipes, Mementos, Miscellany on Amazon.

Ok, I’m off to see what’s in the cupboard…

What are you doing this weekend?

Happy Friday everyone…
Seems I’ve been writing a lot about Paris this week. I keep getting emails from Air France saying they’re having a grand summer sale with one-way fares around $250. And I really want to go. But, alas, I can’t for now…

So here’s to a weekend of vicarious living. I just started reading the Paris Wife by Paula McLain on my Kindle Cloud. It’s a historical fiction about the time Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley spent in the City of Light. It’s good so far, the perfect end-of-summer read.

I also downloaded the latest copy of Marie Claire Idees on Zinio in a quest for a new craft project. Their patterns are so cute. The only drawback is I can’t read French. (Can I Google translate an entire magazine?)

What are you doing this weekend?

Photo by Thom♥

An afternoon at Shakespeare & Co., Paris


In 1951 on Paris’s Rue de la Bûcherie, American George Whitman opened an English-language bookstore called Le Mistral. The shop quickly became the center of literary culture in Bohemian Left Bank Paris, filling the void created when Sylvia Beach’s beloved Shakespeare and Company was shut down during World War II.

Upon Beach’s death in 1962, Le Mistral’s name was changed to Shakespeare and Company, and now the histories of the two stores have blended into one.

Paris photographer and blogger Candice Lesage spent the day there recently, capturing the spirit of the old bookstore:

Shakespeare and Co
Shakespeare and Co - June '11
Shakespeare and Co - June '11

“I was walking in Paris (more especially near St-Michel) with Cosima, I couldn’t help but take pictures of this marvellous bookshop,” Candice recently wrote on her blog. “I think this is one of my favorite spots in Paris, it’s full of books – and most of the time, there’s too many people as well.”

The original Shakespeare and Company has a wonderful history. As with all great beginnings, it involved love:

American-born Sylvia Beach came to Paris during World War I to study the French literature she adored. There, she also met the woman who would be her great love, Adrienne Monnier, and found the occupation that would become her passion–bookselling and publishing. Monnier was one of the first women in France to own a book store and lending library, Maison des Amis des Livres, which specialized in that country’s modern literature and was gathering place for Paris’ literary avant garde. Beach took a $3,000 gift from her mother and opened an English language counterpart across the street at 12 rue de l’Odeon.

She called it Shakespeare and Company, and even though the original store has long been shuttered, it remains perhaps the world’s most famous book store. During the great creative ferment between the wars, Shakespeare and Company became a refuge and meeting place for the English-speaking writers drawn to Paris–Hemingway immortalized it in “A Moveable Feast”; James Joyce, T.S. Elliot, Samuel Beckett, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein were regulars and members of the lending library.

Shakespeare and Company was where they came for books, to pick up their mail, to meet and listen to one another and for Beach’s famously sympathetic ear. (All writers, she once said, like best to talk about their troubles.) If for no other reason, Beach and her book store deserve to be remembered for a single courageous act: In 1922, she published a book no regular publisher was brave enough to touch–Joyce’s modernist masterpiece, “Ulysses”, one of the greatest of all 20th century novels.

Shakespeare and Company fared badly during the Great Depression and, in the late 1930’s, was on verge of going under, when the great French writer Andre Gide organized a series of dazzling readings and lectures there and sold all the 200 available seats for each event by subscription, all proceeds going to Beach.
Many of the world’s greatest contemporary writers took part and the series remains a legend on the Parisian literary scene.

Shakespeare and Company closed when the Germans interned Beach during World War II. Even though Sylvia Beach never reopened her store, she remained in her beloved Paris until her death. She was happy, honored and well-loved, one of the brave and open minds that illuminated the City of Lights. 

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