Eastern Shore

map of the eastern shore

When we moved to Virginia, we came down the Eastern Shore. It is a lovely, charming place, a place that has a feel that time has sort of been suspended. I like that. At the same time, the people (at least the ones we met) are friendly, educated and informed. It was spared the ravages of the Civil War, and the people who live there are proud of their home, even the recent transplants. Yeah, they have problems, but they seem manageable.

We try to visit every year, at least for the craft show after Thanksgiving. Here are some pictures from some of the outings.

What I'm Reading.

Early February. I try to read a lot, in lots of different areas. And reading is becoming relative, too. If I'm picking up information that's useful, say from a podcast, I'm passing that along, too. Here's some of the stuff on the stack.

Todd Henry's Accidental Creative podcast.

I have a lot of back listening to do on this, so I just heard his May 30th, 2017 discussion with Jeff Goins, Real Artists Don't Starve. Not only do you not have to suffer for your art, it can actually be harmful.

Susan Orlean, The Library Book.

I'm about a hundred pages in, and I'm fascinated with the way Orlean interweaves a number of stories–her own love of libraries, the Los Angeles public library main branch building, the fire that destroyed the building and a large part of the collection, and the life story of the arsonist. If you're a writer, this is Exhibit 'A' in how you don't have to start at the beginning. Or connect all the dots with one straight line.

Christopher Moore, Sacre Bleu.

Christopher Moore has replaced Terry Pratchett as my primary go-to brain candy writer (I ran out of Discworld). This one is set in the turn-of-the-century Paris Montmartre art world, and mixes speculative fiction with real people. Pissaro, Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, and Toulouse-Lautrec all make an appearance (as does Michelangelo. We seem to have time travel too). Lots of fun, although a bit dark, as so many of Moore's books seem to be.

Jocelyn Glei, Hurry Slowly Podcast.

Specifically, Episode 305. I've recommended Jocelyn's podcast before. Jocelyn has two formats–the guest format (about 45 minutes to an hour), and just Jocelyn, eighteen minutes. I prefer the latter. This one deals with re-inventing ourselves. In it, Jocelyn explores making resolutions and what they say/do to self-image. Also there's some excellent advice on creating space to develop your artistic self.

She doesn't come right out and say it, so I will. Your artistic/creative self is your authentic self. So spend time and pay attention to developing that creative self.

Jim Harrison, The Essential Poems.

If I'm going to write poetry, I should be reading poetry. It's only fair. Harrison is this month's choice. He's a contemporary (d. 2016), and seems down-to-earth. He deals with small moments in the real world, as seen in the opening stanza of Drinking Song: I want to die in the saddle, an enemy of civilization/I want to walk around in the woods, fish and drink. Except for the fishing part, he's my man.

Robert Mankoff, How About Never? Is Never Good for You?

I just started, so I can't report yet. What I can report is that Mankoff is the long-time cartoon editor for the New Yorker. There are lots of examples of what crosses Mankoff's desk on a daily basis. This sees to be one of those jobs where a person says, You have to be crazy to take it. If you're not crazy, it can make you that way.



The 15h (or 16th) anniversary edition. For this go-round, we're putting things back.

TomatoPlanet!! has been in existence (with a couple of name changes) since about 2003. It reflects the interests of its author/creator, John McCarthy. The sole purpose of Tomato Planet!! is to provide an outlet for my attempts at being creative. At various times, these interests have included writing (always writing–fiction, poetry, speculative essays, and humorous writing), coding (html and css) taking pictures, cooking, and cartooning. As interests waned (camera broke and was never replaced, cooking became more functional and simpler), pages devoted to these activities were phased out, to the point where TP!! was a single page. A lot of the writing and subject matter had a limited shelf life, and so instead of archiving it in an accessible fashion, it was just taken off-line and parked in the shed.

I was mildly shocked when I heard from a number of readers (shocked that I had a number of readers) that no, they would like to be able to access some of the old stuff. Some people were missing the Stories page, for example.

So for this iteration, I'm putting some things back. Some pages are already in place–Stories, Poetry, and Cartoons. Some pages are in place, but need populating, like The Attic. And then there is this page, Miscellany, which actually has a long history (one of the predecessors of TomatoPlanet!! was called McCarthy Miscellany.).

All work is based on observation of the world around me. Serious writing, the poetry and stories take a different approach to capturing these observations. Photographs are what they are. The rest–cartoons and speculative essays take very little seriously, reflecting the world. If you look long enough, you realize that the orbital pattern is random ellipses, not perfectly round. I try to capture the absurdity of that. Not all the way to dark absurdity like Camus and Sartre, or even like Samuel Beckett–I sort of pull up in the land of Douglas Adams and Joseph Heller. I should be so lucky as to write half as well.

If you view the world through absurdist-colored glasses, you will enjoy some of the material here. If you're not an absurdist, well, you haven't been paying attention.

TomatoPlanet!! is a random collection of writing, cartoons, and things that strike my fancy. © 2003-2020, John McCarthy

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You've probably noticed that each page has a different background color. They're the Pantone Colors of the Year from the last decade. The Miscellany page is Marsala, from 2015.