Author Jeff Sharlet at APL April 22

born in Schenectady County, NY

Sharlet, Jeff_credit_JuliaRabig“Why do we sometimes gravitate toward the unknown when we feel alone? The writing in Jeff Sharlet’s gorgeous new book, ‘This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers,’ takes place between lonely traumas: his father’s heart attack and his own, two years later. As a magazine writer and the author of several books, Sharlet has made a long career of telling stories, but after his heart attack he started to re-evaluate the kinds he thought were worthwhile.”

That’s the opening of the stellar review in the New York Times of Sharlet’s seventh book. “He turned to posting snapshots on Instagram. These were not solipsistic selfies but images of strangers and their lives.” It’s a book framed by insomnia, late-night driving and “the companionship of other darkness-dwellers: night bakers and last-call drinkers, frightened people and frightening people, the homeless and the lost (or merely disoriented), addicts and people on the margins.”

Jeff, who was born in Schenectady County, notes that while most of the book is reported, every now and then, it returns to the personal. He says it’s a very upstate book. Three chapters take place in Schenectady, including the longest narrative text-image sequence and the penultimate scene. There are a few other bits of the Capital District, too. It also takes place in L.A., Moscow, Dublin, and Vermont, but there’s a Schenectady sensibility throughout, he believes.

The Family

The acclaimed author and journalist is noted for The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, his bestselling 2008 book. It explores the most powerful and most weirdly secretive Christian conservative organization in Washington. The book was adapted to a 2019 five-part Netflix documentary series, THE FAMILY.

Jeff Sharlet is an associate professor of English and creative writing at Dartmouth College. His work has earned numerous awards, including the National Magazine Award and the Outspoken Award.

Please join The Friends and Foundation of the Albany Public Library for the National Library Week Distinguished Author Dinner and Lecture on Wednesday, April 22th with author Jeff Sharlet. The dinner begins at five o’clock p.m. at the University Club, 141 Washington Avenue in Albany and costs $30 per person. If you wish to attend, please purchase tickets online.

The lecture by Mr. Sharlet begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington Avenue Branch, 161 Washington Avenue. It is free and open to the public.

Feb. rambling: Love Me Again

A Touch of Glee

Rebecca Jade.Elton JohnUnaccountable Accounting in the Pentagon.

Facial Recognition Technology and AI Are Tainted With Racial Bias.

Jared’s Plan for Mideast Peace.

Homelessness Czar Seeks to Further Criminalize the Homeless.

Politifact has looked into 42 of Limbaugh’s controversial statements, and found zero of them to be entirely true. Thirty-five were rated Mostly False, False, or Pants on Fire.

BUT… Let’s Talk Each Other Down.

Sir Nicholas Winton, the hero who rescued 669 Jewish children on the eve of WWII.

Son rebukes his racist dad who asked immigrant, “Why didn’t you stay in Mexico?”

We can become more prosperous while taking better care of our planet.

Amy Biancolli on Daniel P. Richardson.

Lin-Manuel Miranda gives us a lesson in the slang of Broadway.

Science and technology

TED talk: “Bonk” author Mary Roach delves into obscure scientific research to make 10 surprising claims about sexual climax.

What it’s like to live without a sense of smell.

Concussion risk in youth football.

The color of your clothing can impact wildlife.

Key challenges, collective insights, and possible futures for the music industry.

Verizon’s latest dirty trick. Planned obsolescence.

Teevee

James Corden: The late-night TV host sees his job as a chance to spread joy and he “comes clean” on the subject of whether he drives the car in his “Carpool Karoke” segments.

John Oliver: asks questions and is interviewed by Ali Velshi and Push Notifications.

In response to a Facebook meme about putting up pictures of sci-fi shows, I posted one from The Wild, Wild West, which we decided was steampunk. Just a couple days later, Robert Conrad had died at 84.

RIP Gene Reynolds.

Pushing Daisies – the great show that never got a fair shake.

Cookie Monster crashes The Washington Post.

One Second from Every Muppet Show Episode.

Mark Twain Award: Jonathan Winters (1999) and Bob Newhart (2002) and David Letterman (2017).

Actor and game show panelist Orson Bean, born Dallas Frederick Burrows, has died. He was the correct response that I got on my first JEOPARDY! appearance. Later, one of the competitors I did not play was happy for that fact, because he had no idea who Orson Bean was.

Now I Know

The Anti-Labor Origins of the Oscars and Why Are There Random Colored Squares on My Box of Almond Milk? and A Creative Way to Pay the Czechs and A Frank-ly Kind Act and The Drones With Brains of Their Own.

MUSIC

Rebecca Jade.Oscars
Rebecca Jade, the niece: (I’m Gonna) Love Me Again – Elton John at the Oscars, 9 Feb 2020. In the video, Rebecca Jade is screen left, in the middle. Also, listen to Miss You.

Overture to Hector Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini.

Coverville: 1294: Covering the 2020 Inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and 1295: The 40th Anniversary Tribute to London Calling.

Hoopla: A Touch of Glee by George Walker.

Everybody Wants To Be Sondheim – Alan Chapman.

Non nobis domine by Patrick Doyle from Henry V.

Hooked on a Feeling– Swedish Royal Guards.

That time Johnny Rotten called me a “stupid, filthy sod.”

Top photo: copyright Rebecca Jade, 2020