2. And a quick news item at SFCV, the cancellation of future seasons of the Sunset Concerts, a small local chamber music series I regard fondly, though I haven't often gotten there. I'd seen an article about this in the local paper and forwarded to my editors, saying we should cover this, so I did the write-up. Only a few facts in my piece come from the article; the rest is my own research and personal knowledge. The concerts I mentioned are ones I blogged about at the time, which is how I know when they were.
3. When I gave a Tolkien lecture in 2009 at a small college in East Texas, I headed off afterwards to explore the countryside. I wrote at the time,
East Texas is not an economically prosperous region. Every little town has a town square paved in brick, and the towns vary among the a) mildly decrepit; b) totally decayed; c) virtual ghost towns. In one such small town I stopped at a soda fountain where I was the only customer, and the old lady behind the counter, as she fixed my root beer float, chatted away as if I was the first human being she'd seen in a week, which I may well have been.I mentioned this impression and this incident to my professorial contact from the college when I saw her in New Orleans 3 weeks ago. She did not demur from my socio-economic observation, and has just written me with a link to an obituary: the soda fountain lady in question was a locally famous character who died two days ago. My prof says that one of her colleagues would regularly take his students the 20 miles to this town and they always went to the ice cream shop. I'm sorry to hear the lady is gone: she was very friendly and she fixed a mean root beer float.