Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year from the Land of Books

Iceland has more books published and purchased per capita than any other country on earth. (With this weather and twilight at 3:30 pm, it's not hard to see why.) But hooray for books, and via Buzz, Balls & Hype, a valiant new year's resolution. Read on!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Icelandic Experience

The plane smelled of fish. The signs are all in English, or bilingual. Yes, Reykjavik is dark, cold, drizzling, and very windy--- so windy that the first person out the airport lobby door bellowed, "HOLY COW!" The streets are sparkly with salt pellets. The restaurant offered "Mexicana" pizza (which I doubt any Mexican would recognize). Many immigrants from southeast Asia, and I found a Russian note in the gutter. More anon.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Off to Iceland for New Year's. Back a-blogging in early January--- and with a long post on my latest taxonomy of literary blogging. On February 9th I'm to chair a panel on writers's blogs as a new literary genre at the Washington Independent Writers Conference All-Day Fiction Seminar. I'll also be leading the one day literary travel writing workshop via Dancing Chiva in Mexico City this Jan 19th. Much news, too, from Tameme... More anon.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Pug Vid: Madam Mayo's Top 5 Picks

#1. I'm a Pug!
Y'all ready to do this thing? Whucha gonna do?

#2. Planet of the Pugs
Grrr... lollipops in the sand...

#3. Japanese Chewy Steal
The big white dog is a Zen Master--- or else stone-bag dumb.

#4. Hi, Sophie!
Weely kwute

#5. Alas, there is no number 5. I'd recommend the one of pug eating the cheet-O, but nah.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Quid Plura?

Apropos of the upcoming Washington Independent Writers Fiction Writing All-Day Seminar on Feb 9th--- for which I'll be chairing the panel on writers's blogs as a new literary genre--- conference organizer John Curry asks me, what do I think of his friend Jeff Sypeck's blog Quid Plura? Well, halleluja, it's an excellent one! Sypeck is the author of Becoming Charlemagne, a book I've had on my reading list for some time. Check out what he has to say about one of my favorite topics, Icelandic literature. More about lit-blogs and writers's blogs anon.

Dolores Olmedo Museum in Xochimilco (Mexico City)

... has the most magnificent Homage to Diego Rivera. Don't miss it. The exposition closes January 2nd.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dr Szender Ede's Article on the Emperor Maximilian

New on the Maximilian page--- thanks to the kind permission of Eduardo Wallentin--- I've posted his father's Spanish translation of a very rare 1879 article in Hungarian by Dr Szender Ede, an eyewitness to events in Queretaro in 1867.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Galeria Ida Victoria

Galeria Ida Victoria, San Jose del Cabo's most beautiful art gallery, has just re-opened. I was there on a morning week before last--- after the complete renovation, the tropical light seems even more sublime. The artwork is vibrant. If you're anywhere nearby, don't miss it. Check out the website at (I read from Miraculous Air here a couple of years ago. Here's a photo of Yours Truly and Bruce Berger (author of the enchanting Almost an Island) and Jim Tolbert, host and founder of Baja Books & Maps, in the old Galeria de Ida Victoria.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

San Miguel Writers Conference Coming Up

The annual San Miguel Writers Conference in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, is coming up this February. I'll be leading the break-out session on creative nonfiction on February 23rd. Some of the other faculty include Beverly Donofrio, Tony Cohan, and Wayne Greenhaw. Looks like it will be bien divertido. More anon.

Biblioteca Virtual Antorcha

A great on-line library of classics in Spanish: Biblioteca Virtual Antorcha. And I've added a new link on my Maximilian page to the Biblioteca Antorcha's El Proceso de Fernando Maximiliano de Habsburgo, Miguel Miramon y Tomas Mejia. (About the trial of Maximilian and his generals Miramon and Mejia.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Madam Mayo Really Does Not Care

about what Cristina Kirchner wore for her inauguration. (But boy, those spike-heeled boots Condi wore way back when were certainly something.) Madam Mayo herself prefers the Jesuitical Look--- lots of black. Saves on drycleaners's bills.

Hilde (aka Helmut) Testifies on Torture

Read his testimony before today's Helsinki Committee here.

Hurricanes and Carnivals

My essay from Creative Nonfiction (also available as an audio CD), "The Essential Francisco Sosa or, Picadou's Mexico City" appears in Lee Gutkind's anthology, Hurricanes and Carnivals: Essays by Chicanos, Pochos, Pachucos, Mexicanos and Expatriates (University of Arizona Press). Here's the book's description:

“In Mexico,” writes Ilan Stavans in the introduction to this provocative new collection on Mexican culture and politics, “ [the essay] is embraced as passionately as a sport.” While the American essay may be personal and confessional or erudite and academic, it is presumed to be truthful. By contrast, the Mexican essay pushes the boundaries between fact and fiction as writers seek to make their opinions heard—in literary journals, in newspapers, and even on cereal boxes. “What is real and what isn’t in a Mexican essay, only God knows,” concludes Stavans.In Hurricanes and Carnivals, Lee Gutkind, a pioneer in the teaching of creative nonfiction, brings together fifteen essays by Mexican, Mexican American, and Latin American writers that push the boundaries of style and form, showing that navigating “truth” is anything but clear-cut. Although creative nonfiction is widely thought to be an American art form, this collection proves otherwise. By blending fact and fiction, story and fantasy, history and mythology, these writers and others push the bounds of the essay to present a vision of Mexico rarely seen from this side of the border.Addressing topics that include immigration, politics, ecology, violence, family, and sexuality, they take literary license on a whirlwind adventure. C. M. Mayo shows us Mexico City as seen through the eyes of her pug, Picadou; Juan Villoro examines modern Mexico through the lens of demography; Homero Aridjis uses the plight of nesting sea turtles to document a slowly changing Mexican attitude toward natural resources; and Sam Quinones documents the decline of beauty-queen addiction in Mazatlán and tells us about the flower festivals where, according to lore, only two things matter: hurricanes and carnivals. For readers interested in a literary view of contemporary Mexico, as well as students of the creative nonfiction genre, this volume is essential.

And here is a bit from a recent review in the University of Pittburgh Bookshelf:
"A pug named Picadou and her owner walk eastward down the Avenida Francisco Sosa... in Mexico City.... It can be a literal dog-eat-dog world on these streets, which the pug’s owner, C.M. Mayo, captures vividly in an essay she wrote about Picadou and what she thinks and feels. It’s just one tale in Hurricanes and Carnivals (University of Arizona Press), a collection of essays by Mexican, Mexican-American, and Latin American writers, edited by Pitt English Professor Lee Gutkind. The compilation exhibits the catch-22 life of Mexico—a country both united and divided in a mélange of culture, myth, politics, and history. Gutkind, dubbed in Vanity Fair as the “godfather” of the creative nonfiction writing genre, says the difference between American and Mexican writing is that American authors tell you what they see, while Mexican authors tell you what they think. He hopes the Mexican style of “less reportage and more literature” will become a trend in the United States, fodder for enjoyable reading." —Lauren Mylo

More anon.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Looks Like He Got a Bunch of Kisses Before Scottie Could Beam Him Up

Check out the trailer for Planet of the Pugs.

Curling?! Alice on Mexico City's New Skating Rink

Smack in the historic Zocalo, Mexico City's new ice-skating rink gets raves and an important question from Alice of "Alice and Pabu". She has her Tibetan Spaniel, Pabu, ask, hey, where's the curling? Oye, pues, lo puedes jugar en huaraches. Click here to view some serious curling.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Kwiatkowski's Up

The U.S. Mortgage Mess

Thanks to my amigo G., a banker, here's a link to a blog post that ought to set your hair on fire. And worse: I think the author is missing the even bigger and inter-related mess due to the 2005 de-regulation of the credit card industry. Not to mention the changes in the bankruptcy laws. But more anon.

Update: herewith, an info-packed site on bankruptcy law:
Cornell University Law School page on bankruptcy

And check out the documentary, Maxed Out.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

For the Cabo San Lucas Humane Society

C'est moi signing copies of Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, which my publisher, Milkweed Editions, donated to the December 1st charity benefit for the Humane Society of Cabo San Lucas. They are doing fantastic work: check out their website, I hear they raised a heap of money--- and the proceeds will also benefit some local childrens's organizations. Next year the big fund-raising bash will also focus on helping the elderly. There's lots to do... More anon.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Upcoming Writing Workshops in Mexico

Mary Morris, author of numerous novels and travel memoirs, including the recently published and thoroughly splendid River Queen, is offering a workshop in Tepoztlan (near Cuernavaca, Mexico) in Magda Bogin's highly regarded Under the Volcano. I know from personal experience--- I was in Mary Morris's workshop when I was a fiction fellow at the Sewanee Writers Conference back in (gasp) 1996--- that this is an unusual and very wonderful opportunity for anyone serious about their writing.

I'm also offering a couple of one day writing workshops via Dancing Chiva in Mexico City.

And stay tuned for more about the workshops in San Miguel de Allende this winter....


Picadou sure does wish she could attend this one--- Wilson the Pug (read his person Nancy Levine's guest-blog post here) will be there and the whole enchilada goes to benefit pug rescue.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thank you, Helmut

Check out today's post at the Phron.

Mexico City Obama Powwow

Viva Obama! (Richardson quiiiiza; Hillary most definitely not.) In Mexico City this morning a three hour meeting with my chilangringa amiga, Janet. Check out her Obama fundraising page and her essay on why Barack Obama is the one who should be our President--- and not, say I, of the so-called "homeland," but of the Republic that is the United States of America. Click here for the call to serve.

Iowa coming up January 6th. View the Obama Iowa video.

Soon to be Buzzing Over Mexico City?

Not the insectothopter (necessarily) but the lightweight, cheap (vis-a-vis-the big multi-million dollar thing) personal helicopter. For the cost of a (well, OK, with all the bells-and-whistles) sedan, avoid the snarl. Get your earphones and sound proof your house. Oh, yikes. I hear helicopters are the thing in Sao Paulo where the traffic makes even Mexico City's look mild.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Guest-Blogger David Taylor's Top 5 Books Read in 2007

Guest blogging today for Madam Mayo is writer and documentary film-maker David Taylor, author of the award-winning book Ginseng, the Divine Root and instructor at The Writer's Center.

Following Madame Mayo’s rich selection the other week, I offer my own Top 5 Books Read in 2007:

#1. Tree of Smoke
Denis Johnson had me hooked since Fiskadoro. In his hands, a novel about the CIA in Vietnam gains mystery, epic scale and fully-dimensional characters on both sides.

#2. In Case We’re Separated
In Alice Mattison’s collection of linked short stories, a family’s characters span decades and reappear in surprising situations.

#3. The Great Fire
Shirley Hazzard’s fine novel set in Japan just after World War II, like Tree of Smoke, gives an intimate portrayal against a broad canvas. Other favorites in fiction this year were Away by Amy Bloom, and You Won’t Remember This by Kate Blackwell (full disclosure: a good friend). But with just two slots left, I’ll make a case for nonfiction:

#4. The Omnivore’s Dilemma
Michael Pollan combines a strong narrative voice with a fascinating analysis of the food industry and how we eat.

#5. Maximum City
by Suketu Mehta is a mind-blowing picture of Mumbai (that’s right, Bombay) through vivid portraits of a few of its residents. Truly a glimpse into a city of tomorrow.

---> Check out Madam Mayo's other guest-blog posts here.

So, Not the Cement Booties

He floats.

Washington DC Half and Half

Via the ever-interesting political philosophy, torture (philosophy of), and fruit pix blog, Phronesisaical, these DC pix from here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Translation News: Calque's New Issue

Steve Dolphe, editor of Calque, one of the best new translation journals in the USA, alerts Madam Mayo that the third issue is on the stands. Check it out at And: they have restarted their weekly poetry-in-translation feature.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Felices Fiestas & Happy Holidays

Photo of the Pedregal Beach at Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico, by Chairman Mayo.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Real Deal, War Stories & More: Peabody's Electric Grace with Rose Solari and Washington DC Women Writers, December 5th

My amigo Richard Peabody's felicitous invitation to all & sundry!
Electric Grace: Still More Fiction by Washington Area Women will launch at Politics & Prose on Wednesday December 5th at 7pm. Rose Solari (poet, essayist, teacher, whose fiction was featured in Enhanced Gravity, the 2nd volume in the trilogy) will MC a panel of contributors: Michelle Brafman, Merle Collins, T. Greenwood, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Faye Moskowitz, Barbara Mujica, Jessica Neely, Amy Stolls, Hananah Zaheer, and Christy J. Zink. These ten will read a paragraph from their work as a warm-up and then Rose will guide the panel via her own questions and audience questions re. their writing experiences in DC area and beyond. A great opportunity to hear the real deal about the writing/publishing biz, writing with kids, spouses, et al., realistic expectations, women’s roles (now and then), and war stories. The panel is a combo of established writers and relative newcomers. If it’s anything like the past two launches this should be a blast. Everybody should have ample time to vent, rant, share, laugh, and tell choice anecdotes. It’s like a literary reunion and a gathering of the tribes. Hope you can make it.
Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave NW, WDC 20008
(202) 364-1919
www.politics-prose.comBook lists for $18.95 and features 42 women writers. 435pp. Copies will be available at the launch, from our site, and via and the Writer’s Center.

Yours Truly MC'ed the last of Richard Peabody's Washington Women Writers anthologies, Enhanced Gravity, and has a short story in the first one, Grace and Gravity. Read my blog post about them here. More anon.

Women in Art

Women in Art: wierdly alive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Waterfall Illusion

Watch the buddha.

Predatory Consumer Credit, Some Links

I don't write about finance anymore, but I still find the subject fascinating. Predatory consumer credit is big news in the U.S.--- and about to get even bigger. A few links of interest:
--->Payday Lending
--->Payday Lending: Fact vs Fiction
--->Comment on Federal Reserve Paper "Defining and Detecting Predatory Lending"
--->Borrower Stories
--->Financial Quicksand
--->About the Debit Card Overdraft Fees (instead of rejecting a debit card, the bank accepts it & then charges a big overdraft fee-- in effect turning the debit card into a credit card)--- legislation proposed to stop this.
More anon.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Literary Travel Writing Workshops

Both with Yours Truly (C.M. Mayo):
--->January 19th in Mexico City via Dancing Chiva.
--->February 10th in Bethesda MD (near Washington DC) via the Writers Center.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Madam Mayo's Top 10 Books Read in 2007

1. Patricia Klindienst, The Earth Knows My Name
Strange, moving, beautiful.

2. Sam Quinones, Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream
If you want to understand modern Mexico, you must read Quinones. (I reviewed his first book, True Tales from Another Mexico, here.)

3. Halldor Laxness, Atom Station
(Reykjavik, ho!)

4. Janet Lewis, The Wife of Martin Guerre
This may well be the best novela written in English, ever. Every page, every scene, every image, is stunningly vivid. And the author lived in Los Altos, California! Too incongruous.

5. Hermoine Lee, Edith Wharton
At last, Wharton has the bio she deserves. A grand, plummy pleasure to read, all 850+ pages.

6. Mary Morris, The River Queen
A heart-felt personal memoir of a journey to rival Huck Finn's own.

7. Dale C. Carson and Wes Denham, Arrest-Proof Yourself
Witty, wise, and very disturbing. The authors's dedication says it all: "To the thousands of young men in jail for petty offenses. It's not right. It's not just. America can do better." Read my post on this book here.

8. Janice Eidus, The War of the Rosens
A masterfully told story of a family in the Bronx in the 1960s.

9. Mark Kurlansky, Nonviolence
I selected this one for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize in Non-Fiction.

10. Edward Tufte, Beautiful Evidence
And read my rave about his one day course.

---> Read Madam Mayo's Top 10 Books Read in 2006 here.

Back blogging December 5th.

Vast Complex of Underground Temples in Italy

Very fun. Then the police show up...

A Post-Thanksgiving Video: Hungry Hippo

At least she doesn't eat the dogs.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

President Obama

Who's backing Obama? Campaigning in Iowa is getting interesting. Veterans; Oprah; my amiga Janet; Latinos, including Tino Cuellar. Sign yourself up here.

Mary Kay Zuravleff's Mystery Reading at Riverby Books (Capitol Hill DC): November 28th

About a century ago (almost 2 years, actually) I read "The Building of Quality" in Monica Jacobe's very fun A Space Inside reading series at the venerable (they even serve afternoon tea!) Riverby Books. As I'll be out west, I'm going to miss the reading scheduled for November 28th, but if you're anywhere in the Washington DC area, don't miss it! Mary Kay Zuravleff will be reading something new... not from her elegantly witty DC museum-insider novel of manners, The Bowl is Already Broken. (I know this novel well; I had the priviledge of reading multiple drafts.) Nor will she be reading from her first novel, The Frequency of Souls, which one critic deemed “the best short comic novel ever written about refrigerator designers with psychic powers." Whatever it is she's going to read, this is sure to be a special evening. Here's the official info:

Mary Kay Zuravleff at Riverby Books on Capitol Hill
Old Books & New Stories
Wednesday, November 28, 2007, 7 pm
The reading is free, the books are used, and the wine is new. Spread the word.
Riverby Books is at 417 E. Capitol St., SE, near the Folger Theater.

Literary Map of Washington DC

From the Women's National Book Association of DC Literary Map Chair:

Did you know that Louisa May Alcott was a nurse in Georgetown during the Civil War? Or that Mark Twain served as secretary to a Nevada senator in the late 1860s? Or that Ezra Pound was a patient at St. Elizabeths Hospital from 1946 to 1958? If you had WNBA’s own Literary Map of Washington, DC, you would know. These are just a few of the tidbits to be found in this unique publication. And it’s a great gift for anyone on your list who loves books--your neighbor, your child’s English teacher, yourself. Visit WNBA’s website for info on how to order the Literary Map: //

And speaking of literary DC, I'll be posting something shortly about Richard Peabody's latest anthology of Washington women writers... So, more anon.

E. Ethelbert Miller Says, Wear A Suit

Over at his blog E-Notes, Miller writes:
If you're going to throw rocks at the government, you'd better dress up for the occasion. That's the take-away point from the media coverage of the protests in Pakistan. Splashed across the front page of newspapers last week was a picture of a Pakistani lawyer in a suit launching a projectile at the police. The photo editors couldn't resist showcasing such a delicious juxtaposition of law and disorder.

The coverage in The Washington Post was particularly revealing, though not in the ways intended. In his attempt to deconstruct the image of the lawyer-protestor, for instance, Philip Kennicott succeeded only in displaying his own class prejudices. "Men in suits don't throw things," he writes. "If they confront police, they do it politely, in letters, in words spoken softly, reasonably, between reasonable men."

Excuse me? Men in suits throw things all the time. The suits in the U.S. government, for instance, throw bombs at other countries. But alas, we have no pictures of these government officials breaking laws by signing orders to wage war, promote regime change, or stoke revolution. The truth is, men in suits are just as unreasonable, impolite, and confrontational as your average anti-war protestor—or more so. They simply don't do it in the streets.

The anti-war and anti-globalization movements should take note. Forget pink. Forget Bread and Puppet. Forget peace signs, catchy slogans, Zapatista ski masks, and sensible protest wear. If we want to get media coverage and strike fear in the heart of Washington, we should come out for the next demonstration, all 500,000 of us, in our best interview suits.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Over at La Bloga, Daniel Olivas Interviews Rigoberto Gonzalez

...about Butterfly Boy and more. Rigoberto is a beautiful spirit. I first met him at the AWP bookfair a few years ago--- he was wearing a black satin ruffled shirt and passing around a basket full of tiny purple-haired troll pins. (Why not wear a purple-haired troll pin? I ask you.)

A Strangely Calming Conversation

I've no clue what they're saying, but it sounds good to me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

La Onda de "Peace & Love"

Yesterday an afternoon in Tepoztlan. It's kind of like Todos Santos on steroids, and instead of views of the Pacific Ocean, it has the Tepozteco. I have my doubts about the Feng Shui of all that hulking mountain. A thoughtful sculpture exhibition at La Sombra del Sabino. On the way back to Mexico City, I finished reading Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope. Sounds like his mother would have liked Tepoz. Anyway, I'm a supporter--- of Obama, I mean. Anyone who taught Constitutional Law for ten years at the University of Chicago gets my vote. Speaking of which, check out my amiga Janet's "Tea and Obama" page. Hasta pronto.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Madam Mayo's Top 5 Favorite YouTube Videos

It's a new annual tradition. Herewith, as of November 17th, the top 5:

#1.) Bread and Puppet's Blackbirds
Don't you just wanna live in Vermont in a yurt?

#2.) Valerie Plame Testifies Before the U.S. Senate
Watch for the handsome transgender Code Pinkster.

#3.) The Skiing Ostrich
In Japan!!

#4.) Balloon Bowl
(Who needs peyote?)

# 5.) Tied:
"MC Rove"
Watch that scrolling text...
"I'm a Pug! Woop--- Morphing Pugs"
But, of course, the pugs are way cuter than Karl Rove.

--->OK, enough procrastinating!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Noi Albinoi

Mexico City is, like, wigging Madam Mayo out. So she's been watching Icelandic movies. Reykjavik 101; The Seagull's Laughter; and, best of them all, Noi Albinoi, which, actually, is depressing and wierd and shot in this peculiar watery monkey-vomit green tint. But the sound track is sublime, the acting superb, and the director's interview at the end inspiring. As for Icelandic fiction, Halldor Laxness's Atom Station made it onto Madam Mayo's top 10 books for the year, even though she quit reading it half way through. First person to be resumed shortly. More anon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Locavore! Locavore! Locavore! (As Zippy Would Say)

Read all about "locavore" over at the Happy Booker. And God Bless Zippy the Pinhead (a vital reason for retaining one's Washington Post subscription).

Poet in New York: The Book; The Blog

Just back from the fabulous annual conference of the American Literary Translator's Association in Dallas, Texas. One of the many highlights was Mark Statman's talk about his and Pablo Medina's forthcoming translations of Federico Garcia Lorca's poems, the bilingual Poet in New York, which will be published by Grove/Atlantic this December--- in time for AWP in--- where else?--- New York in January 2008. No less than John Ashberry says: "Pablo Medina and Mark Statman have produced the definitive version of Lorca's masterpiece, in language that is alive and molten today as was the original in 1930." This is one I am very much looking forward to reading. Meantime, be sure to check out Mark Statman's blog, Poet in New York. More anon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gone to the Litblogs: E. Ethelbert Miller

So, having been blogging since March of 2006, and reading blogs for only a little longer than that--- some conclusions? I'm a fan of poet E. Ethelbert Miller's blog E-Notes. He's consistent, he's wry, he's watching what's going on in this world (and DC and the poetry scene) with a hawk eye--- and a big heart. He notices, for example, how lawyers in Pakistan dress; he wonders, "Are You a Green Zone Poet?"; he proposes an underground writers conference--- really underground, in the DC Metro. Yeah! He recently posted his 5,000th entry. More anon.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Tabasco Relief--- Update

This morning I visited the Mexico City offices of the IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare / Fundo Internacional para la proteccion de los Animales). They are taking donations of dog and cat kibble for Tabasco--- trucking supplies in directly to Tabasco. I can't stress how urgent this is. The entire state of Tabasco was almost completely inundated--- a million people or more affected, almost all the crops lost and thousands upon thousands of animals drowned, standing in water, now starving and in desperate need of medical attention. To help the people of Tabasco, a great place to donate money--- "cash is king," as rescue workers around the world say--- is through the International Red Cross and to the official "Aid for Tabasco" bank account of the government of the State of Tabasco, which has been set up precisely for relief. As for the animals, it's important to keep in mind that helping animals is part of helping the people--- there is a major, major sanitary crisis underway.

So please, please help out. If you are in Mexico City, please, as soon as possible, take your in-kind donations of dog and cat food to:

IFAW (open from 9 am - 6 pm)
Tecoyotitla No. 274
Col. Florida
C.P. 01030 Mexico City

To make a cash donation for the IFAW Animal Rescue in Tabasco:
Banamex Bank Account # 7820399 in the name of "Espacios Naturales y Desarrollo Sustentable, A.C."

PS Here's the latest press release from the webpage: IFAW Rescue Team Arrives in Tabasco

En este momento el equipo de rescate de IFAW se encuentra sobrevolando las áreas más afectadas para evaluar los daños en las comunidades rurales.

México D.F., 7 de noviembre 2007 – Ante las peores inundaciones de los últimos 50 años en el sureste de México, donde el agua llegó a cubrir un 80% del estado de Tabasco, el Fondo Internacional para la Protección de los Animales y su Hábitat (IFAW; envió un equipo de rescate integrado por el Dr. Francisco Galindo, Director de Campañas de América Latina, y Dick Green del Equipo Internacional de Rescate de Fauna en Contingencia, para evaluar el impacto de la tragedia en la población, en los animales y en el hábitat, con la finalidad de recavar información para la implementación de un plan de emergencia.

Hasta el momento se han reportado 3 muertes humanas, pero alrededor de veinte mil personas todavía están aisladas en sus casas y aún más se encuentran en albergues. Mientras que un gran número de animales de producción y de granja, incluyendo los de traspatio, han muerto o siguen atrapados por las aguas.

Además, se teme que muchos animales de compañía, que no pudieron ser desalojados con sus dueños, se encuentran en condiciones de hambre y salud sumamente graves.

“La prioridad del IFAW es ayudar a mitigar la magnitud del desastre para la población damnificada de Tabasco, atendiendo a sus animales, que en muchos casos es el único patrimonio que les queda,” señaló Beatriz Bugeda, Directora para América Latina.

Para cumplir con este objetivo, el IFAW comenzó a trabajar en colaboración con las autoridades locales y estatales, así como con otras instituciones y organizaciones. Se han establecido acuerdos preliminares con el Comité Pro–Animal, la coalición UNAM-ILPH-DST, el Colegio de Médicos Veterinarios Zootecnistas de Tabasco, la Universidad Autónoma de Tabasco y la Secretaría de Desarrollo Agropecuario y Forestal del Estado de Tabasco.

El IFAW también está apoyando el envío de dos clínicas ambulantes de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) con personal especializado para dar atención a los animales de trabajo, de granja y de compañía. Estas clínicas serán de gran importancia para atender a los animales que quedaron atrapados, en especial en las áreas que aún no han recibido ayuda de otras fuentes.

“Tememos que muchos animales han estado semi-sumergidos en el agua durante varios días, por lo que muy probablemente presenten enfermedades como pododermatitis (lesiones en patas), parasitosis, problemas respiratorios y digestivos,” señaló el Dr. Francisco Galindo.

Finalmente el IFAW acordó con la autoridad estatal responsable de coordinar los centros de evacuación para damnificados, que se elaborará un censo de animales domésticos presentes en esos albergues. De esta forma se les podrá facilitar atención médica y alimento.

El IFAW ha abierto un centro de acopio para recolectar alimento para animales de compañía en sus oficinas ubicadas en Tecoyotitla 274, Colonia Florida, C.P. 01030 y la cuenta bancaria 7820399 a nombre de Espacios Naturales y Desarrollo Sustentable A.C. en Banamex, para las personas que deseen colaborar.

Comite Animal--- Animal Rescue in Mexico

Lolita Ayala, a Mexican TV news personality, has a well-regarded Mexico City-based animal rescue foundation called Comite Pro Animal. I understand they are urgently seeking donations of bags of kibble for the thousands of dogs and cats now starving in the aftermath of the Tabasco mega-floods. I've been trying to find out more... will post again shortly... in the meantime, here is the link to the Comite Animal main donation page.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


The situation in Mexico's state of Tabasco is extremely dire. Please send cash donations, they are urgently needed. Last week, some 90% of the entire state was flooded--- it is only now slowly draining--- more than a million people have been affected and almost all the crops (bananas, rice, corn, papaya, etc) are lost. Not to mention the drowned and starving animals. For information about the disaster and how to help, visit the official State of Tabasco page, and also the International Red Cross.

New World / New Words: Monica Lavin

This Saturday at the annual American Literary Translators Association Conference near Dallas, Texas, I'll be reading from my translation of a short story by a wonderful Mexican writer, Monica Lavin, for the launch of the new anthology edited by Thomas Christensen (with a forward by Gregory Rabassa), New World / New Words, the first anthology in a series published by Two Lines. (This story, "Day and Night" was first published in my anthology of 24 Mexican writers, Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Links-a-Daisy for D.

My amiga D. asked me to send her these links--- I thought, why not post them on my blog? Tres 2007. Et voila:

---> Janet's "Tea and Obama" page.

---> Edward Tufte's amazing one day course, Presenting Data and Information--- upcoming in Houston, Texas, by the way. (And here's one of my several posts about Tufte's workshop.)

---> Huffington Post (Ariana Huffington = Marta Sahagun de Fox x Hannah Arendt--- yes, a most original creature).

---> All about the Military Commissions Act. Read it and freak.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Los fantasmas del Palacio de los Azulejos ~ Ghosts of the Palace of Blue Tiles

Spent this afternoon working on Tameme's second chapbook, the magical poems of Jorge Fernandez Granados, splendidly translated by John Oliver Simon. The title is Los fantasmas del Palacio de los Azulejos ~ Ghosts of the Palace of Blue Tiles. The cover is being designed by Ines Hilde, and features this painting by Mexican artist Elena Climent (another of whose paintings adorns the cover of Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion). The annual American Literary Translators Conference is this weekend in Dallas, so I'll have a flyer, and of course, Tameme's other publications. The pub date for the Jorge Fernandez Granados / John Oliver Simon chapbook is January 2008--- just in time for AWP. If you'd like to be notified when it's published, please click here to join Tameme's mailing list. More anon.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tabasco Update

Ana Maria Salazar's Mexico Today offers an excellent English language summary of the ongoing mega disaster in Tabasco. How to help? Click here and here.

Tabasco Is Still Drowning, Please Help the Red Cross

Re: Mexico's mega-disaster. In this morning's newspapers President Calderon called for help from all over Mexico and the world. ---> Check out the Red Cross for updates and information about how to help.

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

Re: Edward Tufte--- still raving to all who will listen about his superb one day workshop, Presenting Data and Information--- the title of which in no way suggests the fun of it all. (See my previous blog post on Tufte here.) In his fourth book, Beautiful Evidence, he presents Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, an illustrated book probably written by the monk Francesco Colonna and published in Venice in 1499. Tufte's point is that the harmonious presentation of pictures and text is so extraordinary that it is, as he calls it, "a forever beauty." --->Here's the MIT Press's on-line electronic version of the entire tome. And here are a few more pages from Hypnerotomachia Poliphili:
What especially interests me about this is the integration of pictures and text--- which is exactly what I've been doing, almost every day since I began blogging, using the software. And yet, my novel does not have any illustrations. I've always considered illustrations kind of, well, cheesy. But I reconsider... More anon.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Christmas in Kerry

My amiga Clare Melley Smith's new play, with the Gaelic Park Players in Chicago, is so popular that several shows are already sold out! If you're in Chicago, check this out. More anon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tabasco Is Drowning

Mega-disaster in Mexico. According to this morning's Reforma, after several days of unprecedented rains, 80 % of the Gulf of Mexico state of Tabasco is now underwater--- the worst disaster ever to befall this state--- and the rains continue. Reforma also reports that--- no surprise--- most of the crops have been lost. (And here's the report in La Jornada--- 700,000 people affected, panic buying in Tabasco's capital, Villahermosa. And from Milenio, "New Orleans in Tabasco".) Tabasco is a major producer of bananas, corn, soybeans, rice, cacao, pineapples, papayas, and beef cattle. This is Mexico's "Katrina"--- the news is showing people and animals stranded on rooftops and an all-around horrific suffering--- though the Mexican government has been responding rapidly. The Mexican Army has been working hard to rescue people and shore up the levies, and yesterday the President and First Lady went to Tabasco. But the people of Tabasco desperately need help. If you're in Mexico City, you can drop off bottled water, canned food, diapers, clothes, aspirin, and such at:
Casa de la Cultura del Gobierno de Tabasco
Berlin 33, esquina Marsella
Colonia Juarez, Mexico City

You can also send money to the Mexican Red Cross:
Cruz Roja Mexicana
Jan Luis Vives 200
Colonia Los Morales P, Mexico City
Cash deposits: Cruz Roja Mexicana I.A.P.
0401010115 de BBVA Bancomer
sucursal Palmas numero 0683
tel. 10-84-90-00

You can confirm the above information and find updates at the official webpage of the state of Tabasco.

Ready, Set, Nanowrimo!

Today is the start of Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month. Could be fun. Could give you carpal tunnel syndrome. If you decide to do it, check out my daily 5 minute writing exercises for a nudge. And I ardently recommend the founder of Nanowrimo's book, No Plot, No Problem, believe it not... (With such a title, I admit, I never would have picked it up in the first place, but novelist Mary Kay Zuravelff did me the favor of convincing me to have a look.) More anon.

Madam Mayo's Guidelines for Guest-Bloggers

Thanks for checking in, but I am not hosting guest blog posts at this time.

I'm delighted to consider guest-blog posts. Please note I am not interested in original essays. With search engines in mind, I use a specific 5-link format and request a maximim of 400 words, and in fact, I prefer 300 words or less.

Here's what works for Madam Mayo:

---> You have a new book, CD, workshop, reading, concert, movie, etc that in some way relates to the subjects this blog covers (books, creative writing, literary translation, Mexico, Washington DC, the world, human potential, soundwork, and pugs);

---> Provide your website adress, and a brief (100 words max) description of what your new book (or etc) is about (this is what I would use to introduce you);

---> Provide Five links that are in some way relevant to your new book (or etc.)
For example, if your new book is about widgets, say, 5 favorite novels about widgets (with links to read more about each);

---> Why you recommend them (just a line will do)

---> Brief is best (blog readers aren't big on having to scroll down);

---> Before sending, please have a look at these examples:

Novelist Nani Power: 5 Interesting Facts About Monarch Butterflies

Novelist Sandra Gulland's Top 5 Research Sites for Historical Novelists

Poet Debora Ager: 5 Fantastic Freebies for Writers

Travel Writer Isabella Tree's 5 Favorite Books About Mexico

Sociologist Clara Rodriguez on 5 Latino Stars of Early Hollywood

Click here to view the complete archive of guest-blog posts.

--->When you do send, please do ****NOT**** I repeat: *NOT* send your blog post as an attachment. Just send what you have to say in an e-mail and be sure--- this is CRUCIAL---to send the links within brackets, so my assistant can paste them into the blogger program.

Thanks and felicitous blogging.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

El Halloween and the Dia de Muertos

Apropos of which, here's an excerpt about the holiday in San Jose del Cabo, from the first chapter of my travel memoir, Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico, posted on BajaInsider back when the book was first published in hardcover. (I'm happy to say it's now available from Milkweed Editions in a paperback version). No, that is not Picadou--- I've no idea where in the world these pugs are... only about five dfferent people have sent me this photo via e-mail--- and thanks to all! More anon.

Terrorists: A Thoughtoid + Link

Sending around the first complete draft of my historical novel to readers, I've been getting one fairly consistent comment, that my having Mexico's Empress Carlota use the word "terrorist" to describe Mexican insurgents seems much too post-September 11th. Interesting. Apropos of which, check out this recent op-ed in the New York Times on the origin of the word. More anon.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Guest-Blogger Nancy Levine (with Wilson): Five Favorite Pug Sites

Pugs, pugs, pugs, pugs--- and more pugs! Madam Mayo loves pugs! Indeed, Madam Mayo owns a pug--- or, rather, Madam Mayo is owned by a pug. (Picadou, the tiny, shiny, inky, minky princess.) We, and that's the royal "we," are big fans of Nancy Levine's Wilson the Pug series. Apropos of Nancy's latest, The Ugly Pugling, Wilson the Pug in Love, we have invited her to guest-blog here with her five favorite pug sites. Here goes:

#1: Rainbow Pugs
Love the cool, stylized art of Michael Hamlin.

#2: Pug Savers
My hometown pug rescue; Roxane Fritz who runs it is amazing, as are all the folks doing pug rescue around the country. It is truly noble work.

#3: Who Stole My Monkey
The first true social networking site for pug people. It's brand new, but great functionality. Like MySpace for pug people.

#4: Pug Village
I check the forum whenever I need to know anything pug.

#5. Lenny the Pug
Lenny is tireless in doing great work to help pugs and abandoned animals in New York City.

--- Nancy Levine

To read Madam Mayo's other guest-blog posts, click here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens: Monday October 29th at Politics and Prose

If you're anywhere near Washington DC on Monday October 29th, don't miss this one at the venerable Politics and Prose (5015 Connecticut Ave NW) at 7:30 pm: Peter Behrens will be reading from and signing his sweeping, years-in-the-making novel about the Irish potato famine of the 1840s, The Law of Dreams. I had the privilege of reading with Peter at Yaddo back in 1998 (he read a section from this book and I read from Miraculous Air). Years later, our residencies happened to coincide at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), and again, we shared a reading. He finished the novel at VCCA--- a great inspiration for me, as at that time, I was on page 150 of what has turned out to be a 510 page historical novel of my own. The Law of Dreams has gotten rave rewiews--- check out the one in the New York Times and for more info. about this splendid novel. More anon.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Five Minutes of Synesthesia

Just received a nice note from a writer who has been doing my five minute writing exercises (check 'em out: 365, all free) and asks me to continue... ah, no, but anyway, here's one: Synesthesia, the mixing up of sense perceptions, is a powerful technique for enhancing the vividness of your writing. (Read more about synesthesia in Richard Cytowic's The Man Who Tasted Shapes.) Here's the exercise: Put on a CD of music--- any kind of music. As you listen attentively for 5 minutes, according to your perceptions of the music, note colors, textures, tastes and/ or smells. (But no sounds.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

"Helmut's" Phronesisaical, aka The Phron

Yes, there are 700 ba-ga-lula-ga-jillion blogs out there, and yeah, who has the time, but what it's all about is carving out your very own information landscape. What's in mine? One blog I often read is Phronesisaical, founded by my amigo, a Washington DC professor of philosophy, torture (philosophy of, that is) expert, and exotic fruit aficionado (hey, it's blogging, you can do whatever floats your parachute). Why do I read the Phron? Because I always learn something. In particular, I've learned a lot about the blogosphere just from the links he offers. For example, just from Tuesday, here are three excellent posts:
---> Being an Iraqi Refugee in Syria. News is that Riverbend, the widely followed English language blog of an Iraqi, is back on-line. Check the archives on this one.
--->Another Mistrial of the War on Terror Hemlut does some philosophizing...(As Madam Mayo likes to ask, who, really, are the terrorists?)
--->The Jungle Helmut offers a beautiful and original essay about growing up in Taiwan.

More anon.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Space Doll by Christine Boyka Kluge

This is Christine Boyka Kluge's collage, Space Doll, which inspired a poem and more. One of the most interesting and vibrant artist-poets we have is blogging. Check it out.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Desiree Fairooz

Here is a vivid example of "nonviolence"--- as the Dalai Lama defines it, "a rational stimulus to action." The woman on the left of Condoleeza Rice is Desiree Fairooz, who was recently profiled in the Fort Worth Weekly. More anon.

Mexico City This Saturday C.M. Mayo's One Day Workshop on "Techniques of Fiction"

Via Dancing Chiva. Sign-up closes on Friday before noon. Unless you beg. I need to figure out how many xerox copies to make for y'all. Missed this one? There's a one day "Literary Travel Writing Workshop" this winter. P.S. Wherever you may be, help yourself to the 365 daily writing exercises. More anon.

Madam Mayo Hearts Sparklines

Sparklines, conceptualized by Edward Tufte, are "small, high resolution graphics embedded in a context of words, numbers, images." In other words, "intense, simple, word-sized graphics." Use these and get off your burro and onto the Concorde--- really. Here's an excerpt from Tufte's book and a discussion thread. And here's the wiki. Here's my rave about the workshop. More anon.

No Money from PACs? (Are We in Kansas, Not?)

Check out my amiga Janet's Obama page. And the "donate" Obama '08 page has some mighty interesting info. More anon.

Monday, October 22, 2007

King Corn, Corn, Corn, and More Corn

Just saw the excellent new documentary film, King Corn about our dangerously--- and grossly--- disfunctional food production industry which has left us, especially our lower income classes, highly dependent on genetically modified corn (corn syrup as a key ingredient in processed foods and soft drinks and indirectly, as animal feed). Why is this so dangerous? It's not just the widespread negative health impact of the degraded nuritional quality of our food. (Anyone remember the Irish potato famine? And how about the recent, massive--- and hugely under-reported--- pet food recall?) P.S. Farm bill coming up. Check out Mulch blog on the film and the farm bill. And what's the problem with GM corn? Yowza.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Power of Small Multiples

Still amazed by Edward Tufte's workshop... (which I blogged about here)... In one of his several books, Envisioning Information, he dedicates an entire chapter to small multiples, and the power of fitting them into an eyespan. Et voila, I put some small multiples onto the home page of Tameme. Now if I could just figure out how to do that on this blog... More anon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's Called the Insectothopter: Insect-Like Drones To Watch You Here in the Homeland

Next time you go to a rally or any kind of protest, be sure to bring your sign--- and a net. Or maybe just a swatter. Or a big hobnailed boot. As reported in the Washington Post the other day, insect-robot drones have been spotted near the White House in downtown DC. Ain't swamp gas, hon. Or, are you going to drink the Kool-aid? Ask, who, really, are the terrorists?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

All Hail E.T., Minister of Information

Yesterday I attended Edward Tufte's workshop--- one of the best I have ever taken. To my amazement, I found it mega-useful for everything from designing a webpage to evaluating stories in the newspaper, to writing literary fiction. Whether you are an economist, a lawyer, or a rocket scientist, take this workshop, my friend. You will never use Power Point again! Here's a recent article about Tufte in New York Magazine. The cover, pictured left, is of his latest book, Beautiful Evidence. More anon.