Get The Read Out

Calling all readers! Santa Barbara’s premier literary event has expanded to two days: the SB Book and Author Festival will begin this year on Friday evening, September 28 and continue (as in previous years) all day Saturday, September 29, starting at 10 am.

A few fun things to draw attention to

T.C. Boyle will receive the Ross Macdonald Literary Award during a special event at Victoria Hall Theater Friday evening. Following the award ceremony, Mr. Boyle will participate in an on-stage conversation with Macdonald biographer Tom Nolan. Boyle, a Montecito resident, is a nationally popular author of such huge literary hits as Tortilla Curtain, Without a Hero, The Road to Wellville and more recently Riven Rock. Be there for free at 8 pm. Books by both authors available for purchase (and signing!).

Just before the Boyle/Nolan discussion (Friday night from 5:30 to 7:30 at the Faulkner Gallery), how about a Stand Up and Spell contest? The Scrabble Challenge for Literacy entry fee is $20 per individual or parent/child team. Prizes! Refreshments! And it benefits the public library’s Adult and Family Literacy program.

UCSB Arts & Lectures is collaborating with the Festival to present several renowned authors, including Steven Pinker, at Victoria Hall Theater. Pinker (one of Time magazine’s “100 most important people in the world”) will discuss his book, The Stuff of Thought, a fascinating look at word choice and human nature that studies subjects as various as what swearing discloses about emotions to what a baby’s name can say about its parents’ relationship to children and society. Pinker is an experimental psychologist who conducts research on language and cognition, examining what everyday speech reveals about the thoughts or emotions that consume our daily lives. In his book, he explains his groundbreaking research with wit and great examples from our popular culture, i.e. why did we decide to call bulk-mail spam? How is it that romantic comedies are always able to get laughs from the same story lines and same scenarios? Free and open to the public, you’ll find him entertaining and interesting – Saturday September 29, 4pm at Victoria Hall Theater. (Yes free!)

Peacock Poppycock

So can I interest anyone in a friendly, wild organic peacock …with personality? For free?.

Pamela was paid a visit at the beginning of the summer by a peacock. Uninvited. Unprovoked. And now unwanted. Peacock won’t leave.

Ms Peacock travels all around the yard, and would like to have the run of the house – if she could get in. She actually tried to wriggle in the kitchen window. You could say it was a clear case of Ms Peacock on top of the dining room with the glass dome. She is quite content to sit atop the clear ceiling and leave her deposits. This is one reason Pamela would now like her to leave.

Another reason is the flowers.

The peacock likes white flowers – to eat. The flowerbed where Pamela’s pink and white impatiens were growing, is now filled with pink impatiens. When advised that cayenne pepper would discourage herbivores. Pamela liberally seasoned the impatiens. But apparently this bird enjoyed the additional flavor sensation.

This is a big bird, and not one that can be swiftly scooped up, so other tactics of discouragement have been utilized. One strategy attempted was noise. Pamela was told to make a loud disturbing noise to frighten the bird away. So Pamela procured an emergency flashlight that lets out a 140-decibel screech to scare off intruders or gather emergency attention. Apparently Peacock was not perturbed, and suspicions arise that Peacock is hearing impaired.

Also, Pamela was told these birds don’t like water. So Pamela dragged out the hose with a strong sprayer and soaked the bird unglamorously, which prompted the bird to fly away immediately. Then she returned.

“She’s a slow learner,” sighs Pamela.

Pamela called the Zoo – thinking this would be an obvious placement. She was told the Zoo never had peacocks. (Not true! – old timers will remember them back in the early days when it was more of a petting zoo.)

Pamela called to see if the Biltmore would like an exotic touch to their gardens. No go.

She listed the bird in Craigslist…and alleluia! – several people responded! But apparently those were only hoaxes, as nobody would then return Pamela’s earnest return calls.

So Pam called the wildlife fowl-language animal-support-type groups. One was definitely interested and ready to go, and then asked, “Is the bird hurt?”

“No,” said Pamela, “But she may be a little dizzy.”

“Oh well, we can’t take her then; we only deal with birds that have been hurt.”

Pamela was going to offer to whack the bird in the kneecaps, but thought better of it.

Ms Peacock doesn’t make much noise – in fact the peahen never squeals or squawks. Well, that’s not quite true. Mrs. Peacock made a row when Pam had dinner guests – in the dining room, and Peacock sat atop that clear glass roof.

Curiously, Lady Peacock does not stay around full time. She comes and goes as she pleases, and it pleases her to leave when she sees the husband home (does some traveling in his work). So now the family thinks they have a gay peacock here smitten with Pamela. In which case, it was probably a fit of jealousy that caused her to squawk over the dining room when she saw Pamela celebrating with other dinner guests.

Now to make the story stranger – I should point out that two years ago, Pamela lived in San Luis Obispo, and an unattached peacock flew into her yard there and decided to become an uninvited guest. That one was male, but still…what are the odds?

If you are interested in adopting this gal (the bird, not Pamela) for your very own, give her (Pam, not the bird) a call on the “Ms Peacock.”