Damp Quills

So, what do we think of the Quill awards?

On the one hand, any group with the sense of humor to hand not one, but two awards to the Jon Stewart crew is my kind of people. On the other hand, the entire thrust is so commercial, it’e2’80’99s a little off-putting. On the one hand, any book that received a starred review from PW or was a Booksense pick (Booksense is the voice of the independent bookseller’e2’80’99s association) qualifies for nomination, but on the other, so does any title that appeared on bestseller lists in Barnes & Noble or Borders.

I don’e2’80’99t know if I live in one of the fourteen areas where NBC is carrying the awards ceremony (Oct 22, 7:00 pm) but if I do, I’e2’80’99ll be watching. Let me know what you think.

In a completely unrelated topic, I received a change-of-address notice from my British publisher yesterday that bore a large stamp showing the lower half of a front door, superimposed with the words:

At first I thought this was one of those stamps the post office periodically issues to raise awareness of some topic, or even raise funds for it. But then I took off my glasses and squinted at the corner and saw, in teensy letters, what looks like:
ITV 1955-2005

I suppose ‘e2’80’9cRising Damp’e2’80’9d is the name of a television program on Britain’e2’80’99s ITV channel, celebrating its fiftieth anniversary’e2’80’94the channel’e2’80’99s fiftieth, surely, not the program’e2’80’99s. Still, it makes for some interesting reflections about Britain before that realization settles in.

For those of you who have never lived in the British climate, rising damp is what you get when you build brick houses on damp soil, cover the brick with plaster, and live in it for a few decades. A damp-proof course will keep it under control, or elaborate treatment, but bar that, the walls develop a severe skin condition, uneven patches of crumbling surface to which wallpaper refuses to bond and paint buckles. You can treat the surface, but that only pushes the damp higher up the wall. It’e2’80’99s like living with a leper’e2’80’94you love them dearly, but there are parts you just try to keep under cover.

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  1. Bex on October 13, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    ‘Rising Damp’ is one of my favourite sitcoms, and although it has dated somewhat, the script and the acting is brilliant enough to compensate. Leonard Rossiter (Rigsby) played the sleazy and obnoxious landlord of a run down boarding-house, and was ably supported by a fine trio of actors who played his character’s regular tenants (Richard Beckinsale, Frances de la Tour, and Don Washington). http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/articles/r/risingdamp_7775500.shtml

    The comedy was aptly named as rising damp is associated more with old, run down buildings than with modern well kept ones (the inclusion of damp courses were made mandatory in 1875). Not to say that modern buildings don’t suffer – cowboy builders, badly laid patios and flower beds see to that!

  2. Anonymous on October 14, 2005 at 4:53 pm

    I think that happens alot in building a house in New Orleans too.

  3. Anonymous on October 15, 2005 at 2:13 pm

    Rising damp DOES happen in New Orleans as well as parts of Florida, and that was prior to Katrina! The TV show is a good one, but not seen much.

  4. Anonymous on October 15, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    and isn’t Jon Stewart the best, funniest, bravest guy on tv today? He knows just where to place a shiny needle-like barb to cause all of us to hic-up! I teach college students and I know where they get their news–if Jon hasnt talked about something, they do not know it.

  5. Katy on October 16, 2005 at 6:39 pm

    Jon Stewart is genius. If I have to watch a news show, then he is the best, because he doesn’t take himself seriously.
    Something completely unrelated. I just realized that you are my mother’s age, which is somehow strange and a bit startling. I don’t know why. I suppose that when I read, the author is simply a conduit between imagination, or perhaps genius, and myself. Far more so than the genius of science, I would find the touch of the divine in a great book, if I weren’t atheist.

  6. David Amulet on October 19, 2005 at 9:27 pm

    I think the Quills are a great idea — let’s try to get some of the folks who write and publish books (often at a loss to themselves) some network attention like that received by movie stars, pop musicians, pro athletes, and talentless media whores. (Well, at least Paris Hilton.)

    Do I think broadcasting the awards show will work? No. The people who care about books and their role in society aren’t likely to watch, and those who don’t care will roll their eyes and flip on some new reality show monstrosity.

    But let’s keep the awards. Even if nobody else notices, we can.

    — d.a.

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