Talk to DP Forum

Carissa

The Real Babatunji’s?

October 21, 2021

Hi Mr. Pinkwater – we have read Adventures of a Dwergish Girl approximately five times out loud.  We are in Kingston this week, and my kids and I are wondering where The Real Babatunji’s is?  If it doesn’t exist, where is your favorite pizza in Kingston?  We will avoid all imitations of hot dogs. Thank you!  Carissa

Daniel replies:

Sorry, I haven't been in Kingston for a few years, and can't suggest a pizzera with certainty, but if I were in town I'd check La Florentina. Have fun!


Ben Duff

ABC Piano

September 29, 2021

Dear Daniel,

I can no longer access ABC Piano on my internet radio. Can you please tell me if it has gone off air? I hope not. I love it. Best wishes. Ben

Daniel replies:

Sorry, I can't help you with this. These internet stations disappear, and reappear. I have no idea how it all works, but thanks for asking and for your interest.


Shelagh M Goulis

Lizard Music still plays in my mind

September 26, 2021

Mr. Pinkwater,

I’ve been meaning to write you for 40 years…

As a ten year old, I loved Lizard Music.  As a 28 year old, I had the image of the print block lizard tattooed on my ankle.  As a 30 year elementary/middle school school teacher, I’ve shared your book countless times. And now, as a 51 year old, I’ve reread the book and shared it with a friend in the Netherlands.  Discussing it with a (an?) European of similar age but with cultural differences has been an amazing experience.  Dutch television also went off the air in the 1970’s!  Walter Cronkite was known internationally.  Alas, pizza delivery was not a thing in Holland back then.

So, this isn’t really a question, but just a comment:  thank you so much for this book.  Now, more than ever, I relate to Victor and his fear of pod people taking over.

Neeble, neeble!

With deep respect,

Shelagh

Daniel replies:

It makes my head spin to read that a book of mine was meaningful to you. Of course, I understand that a work of art isn't finished, doesn't exist, until someone receives it and makes something of it, so the important part of the creative thing is yours. So it is for me to thank you for making my book matter.


Jenny Smith

A Note of Gratitude

September 22, 2021

Dear Mr. Pinkwater, 

 

In the spring of 2020, we were all set to take a Borgel inspired road trip that summer. Alas, we had to cancel that plan and ended up sheltered in our home with two disappointed boys, aged 9 & 11.  They sat wistfully looking at photos of our Neddiad adventure from the previous summer, when we took a cross-country trip by train to Chicago and the Grand Canyon. 

 

My husband and I knew that we needed to do something. We posed a family challenge to come up with a way to fill our memory books with adventures without leaving home. After brainstorming and lots of discussion, the weekly family theme was born. Each week we take turns drawing a strip of paper out of a bucket that is filled to the brim with every idea we could come up with. We have made some wonderful memories with the likes of Jules Verne, Indiana Jones, pirates, pioneers, magical nannies and more. 

 

Time flew by and, before we knew it, school reopened and we were back out into the world. Except, none of us was willing to say goodbye to our bucket of themes. We unanimously agreed that the themes are here to stay. We made a few adjustments, like extending them to two weeks so that we can accommodate distractions, like homework, without missing out on doing a fun activity. 

 

Today, I am writing to you because my 12 year old drew the Pinkwater theme for the next two weeks. It was followed by a deluge of ideas and excitement. Your books are a staple in our household culture. They have inspired vacations and family traditions. This morning as I walked my 10 year old to school, all he could talk about was ideas for the theme ranging from a Noodlekugel inspired tea, recreating the Laurel and Hardy movie festival in The Snarkout Boys and making pizza with Spiegelian blue garlic. 

 

While the kids were at school, I drew a picture of Henrietta on our chalkboard which displays the current theme. Our theme bookshelf, which rotates in content depending on the current theme, is overflowing with your books. I am excited for two weeks with Henrietta,  Blueberry Park, the blue moose, Fafner, clam chowder with gingerbread & coffee, the Snark Theater, Mr. Plumbean, napoleons, Melvin the shaman, Neddie, doughnuts, hot buttered potatoes, Iggy, Uncle Borgel, Wuggie Norple, the great popsicle, and pizza with spiegelian blue garlic. Thank you for creating such wonderful characters and stories.

Daniel replies:

Obviously, your family gets more fun out of stuff I've written than I had writing it. I am not jealous, that was my intention, or would have been if I had an intention. I do feel I should remark that a Borgel-inspired road trip would have to involve travel in time space and the other, which might be a bit beyond the capacities of the average family, even one that can read, so circumstances may have worked in your favor.


Mark French

Thanks for Publishing Advice

September 21, 2021

Daniel,

Some time back, we conversed by email as I asked about how to get a children’s book published.  You gave me some valuable, though not especially encouraging advice.  I eventually found a different route to becoming an author and now have an ongoing relationship with Springer, the academic publisher.  My fourth book is now being typeset and should be out in January.  This one is on acoustic guitar design.  I’m hoping that Jeff Goldblum will portray me in the movie version.

My sincerest thanks for taking time to talk with me back then.  It really did help.

Mark

Daniel replies:

What? I gave you advice and it was any good? This feels like a prank, or maybe a setup. I have demonstrated time and again that I don't know anything about publishing. Also, I have no money to invest or loan. In case your post is legitimate, congratulations and good luck with the guitar book.



Steven Lamonea

Reading your stories increases my happiness

September 8, 2021

Dear Daniel,

I’m reading “Uncle Boris in the Yukon and Other Shaggy Dog Stories,” and loving it.  Your stories are wonderful and getting to know a little something about you is a treat.  I love dogs too and am speeding back to Brooklyn to see my Sam as I write (I’m on a train).

 

Thank you for writing and sharing stories with me (and lots of others).  I will never be able to read enough of your books.  Please don’t take that as permission to slack off from writing, I’d prefer you didn’t.

A big fan of yours,     Steven Lamonea, 

PS: I’m not sure if my message/question is going through because I tried submitting it on my phone and the screen blinked/flashed but I’m not sure if that proved I’m not a spambot.  I’m using a proper desktop now and saw a Captcha thing so I’m more optimistic now than ever before.  My apologies if you’ve been inundated with multiple messages.

Daniel replies:

Steven, I never really gave any thought to people being made happy, or happier, because of things I write. I never thought very many...or any...people would read my stuff. But, here you are. You read it, you like it. This makes me wish I had learned more and become a better writer. It's not too late! I will try to improve. If you should read something of mine, and think, "Look at this! He finally broke out of being mediocre." If this should happen, some of the credit will be yours. So, thanks for the encouragement and help.


J. Murray Onofrio

E-Mail in 1977?

August 15, 2021

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

I am 7 years old and about to start 2nd Grade.  My dad and I have been stuck in the house for 518 days.  We have read some of your books.  My favorite is “Lizard Music.”  We are reading “The Hoboken Chicken Emergency.”  My dad is confused.  He says that you wrote it in 1977, so how could you have written an e-mail address for Anthony DePalma, Chicken Hunter, 20 years before people used e-mail?  He says e-mail might have existed in 1977, but only like 3 people would have known about it.  How did you know about it and how would Anthony DePalma have been able to use it?

Splendiferously yours,

Murray

Daniel replies:

That's interesting. Is it possible I invented e-mail? I don't remember inventing it, but that doesn't prove I didn't. I have always been forgetful, and now I am old, and can hardly remember anything. I will ask my wife...oops, she is old too, so we can't trust her memory. I know I invented the pastrami sandwich on rye bread with a pickle on the side, but that is hardly the same thing.


Keith Upson

Thank you.

July 17, 2021

I am 51 one and I adult reasonably well and have read hundreds of books and written a few myself

 but two of the best I have ever read are Lizard Music and Hoboken Chicken Emergency and thank you.

I’m a few thousand words into writing one right now that is just for fun and it hit me like a ton of bricks yesterday that it wouldn’t be happening without Lizard Music and then I’ve spent the last 24 hours thinking about how many other nice things in my life that applies to as well, and I figure who doesn’t like to hear thank you.

Thank you.

Keith

Daniel replies:

I keep receiving thanks and credit, probably by default. I have the best readers in the world, (you among them), who deserved a better author but got me. This is not to say your gratitude is misplaced...and it is appreciated all the more for being such a near thing.


Zev Bordowitz

So, 2012 was a year, huh?

July 13, 2021

Hi there,

I have been a big fan of yours since the 2012 eighth grade New York State Test. Thank you.

Daniel replies:

If I were allowed to create the entire eighth grade test, (and I would not charge a dollar for doing so), culture in New York State would leap forward to an incredible level, and there would be a blooming of civilization all over the world. Please check whether I am still alive when you become Chancellor of Education.


Carla

The Power of Blue Moose

May 1, 2021

Dear Mr Pinkwater,

I hope this finds you and yours well.

I first read Blue Moose in 1985 when I was still adjusting to
moving to the US and being a 6 year old. I didn’t know what clam chowder or
gingerbread was and had had only the vaguest notions of what a moose was, but
reading the book always gave me a feeling of bone-deep contentment and comfort.
I liked the idea of gingerbread for years and years before I ever tasted it and
found that it is a wonderful as I imagined.

Fast forward to pandemic times when we are all going through
hard times and are operating at our less-than-best. Early in the pandemic, at a
loss for how to support a friend going through crisis, I spotted Blue Moose on
my shelf and offered to read her a chapter. The effect on her was magic. I
doled out another chapter any time she needed it and we were both gutted when
the book ended. Since then, I have read Blue Moose to 5 other friends going
through tough times and infected them with my love of this book. At the end of
each reading I know I am guaranteed to feel better than I did before I started.
Thank you for this priceless gift.

Best wishes,

Carla

Daniel replies:

What an email for an author to receive! You may be describing something about my book, and you may be describing something about yourself as a person, maybe a combination of the two. I am going to assume that there's something like the quality of gingerbread in my book, and when I have a collaborator like you, it can be better than gingerbread. Thanks for putting Blue Moose to such good use.


How can we support your genius?

April 21, 2021

Greetings Mr. Pinkwater!

You, my dear sir, are a literary (and maybe otherwise as well) genius!

Our family has read or listened to every book you have published. Some more times than the FDA or OSHA would deem healthy. We have reached the unanimous conclusion that you are brilliant.

Stuck on a desert island, we would hope to have a box of your books and an mp3 playing devise wash ashore with us.

Your website kindly shares your otherwise unobtainable audiobooks for free and the library carries many of your books that are no longer in print. We’ve purchased the books we can to support you, but we feel like freeloaders on a buffet of wonders. How can we support you in the manner to which you have no doubt become accustomed? Can we donate to support the Pinkwater Archives or perhaps mail you a 3 foot salami?

Sincerely,

Nick (not our real name, a nickname)

Daniel replies:

My genius is its own reward, although recently someone had a pound of Nova (that's a variety of smoked salmon, not a piece of a discontinued Chevrolet, or some soil from a Maritime province), shipped to me from a certified lox-shipper, properly iced and not dangerous, and that was a pretty good reward. If there were a way to get Montreal bagels to me before they became rock-solid stale, that would be another good reward. A 3-foot salami is the sort of reward one comes to regret.  I had a wheel of New York State Extra-sharp Cheddar cheese sent to me, a fairly decent reward. But, you are aware, are you not, that publishing houses have been rewarding me with money all along, after fiddling with the accounting in their own favor, of course, so it's really uncalled-for for readers to individually reward me?


Corey Brockman Merrill

Would you like to visit our classroom over Zoom?

February 13, 2021

Hello Mr. Pinkwater,

My name is Corey Merrill and I am a 3rd grade teacher in Somerville, Massachusetts.  Earlier this year I read The Hoboken Chicken Emergency to my class as a read aloud.  My class LOVED it, as did I.  It’s hilarious.

I have been remote teaching all year, and honestly we could really use some excitement.  Would you like to Zoom into our classroom for a short visit?  It could be a Q and A.  My kids would absolutely lose their minds with excitement, and so would I.  It would be a thrill to have you.

I hope to hear from you soon!

Thank you!

Corey Merrill 

Daniel replies:

Well, here's the thing. I started using a computer as a writing machine in 1981. I worked with my TRS80 and Scripsit (the word processor) all day, and didn't feel too much like playing with it at night. Email was useful, of course. I did it in DOS. A computer magazine sent me a computer that was supposed to be easy to set up so I could write an article about whether it was easy. It was. This computer came with Windows, which was sort of new at the time, and it had colors. However, I already owned a television, so the only time I looked at Windows was when I set the machine up so I could write about it. The next time I looked at Windows, was the first time I ever looked at a website...and it was this one! Anyway the primitive ancestor of this one. Webmaster Ed had sent me an email, which I read in DOS, white letters on a black background, asking me if it was alright if he created a Pinkwater website. I think he may have been 15 at the time. I said sure. Later he emailed me again to say the website was created, so I invoked Windows and had a look at it. It was already a good website, though I just assumed, having no basis for comparison. I found some other uses for the computer, but not many, and I went from using a cassette recorder to those big floppy disks made of vinyl and paper, and I had to install the drives myself, which meant opening up the case of the computer, which looked like a Hong Kong radio inside, with my feet on a slightly damp towel, to discourage static electricity, and a ground wire attaching me to a heating pipe by the ankle. Good times. What is Zoom?


Randal Hunting

video on Hoboken I think you might like

January 31, 2021

I think this is from just about the era you moved to Hoboken (from one who lived there also): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm3kDLCFCFU&fbclid=IwAR1zCTPV8-HQolZYnE_4vie2ceTpY8Vf-0otXbklRYImwKbQ38cTRXu0T7E

Daniel replies:

Depressing.


Lydia Hadfield

Do you ever get credit for inventing/prophesizing Crocs in Slave of Spiegel?

December 11, 2020

 

Dear Mr. Pinkwater,

In your Five Novels, published in 1997, there are several mentions in “Slaves of Spiegel” of plastic perforated shoes. This alliterative, visionary image haunted me like bright blue Spiegelian garlic. When Crocs, the plastic perforated shoe, appeared on the market in 2002, I was certain Earth’s takeover by interstellar Fat Men was nigh. Who’s to say we are not currently in thrall?

Have you, sir, been given your due for this great and terrible vision? Fame, fortune or free footwear? It is not the vindication you deserve, but it is true nonetheless: I think about “Slaves of Spiegel” every single time I see a Croc or a Crocapair.

In fact, I was listening to a vapid podcast this morning when plastic perforated loafers were invoked. Corpulent thoughts entered my orbit. Find Daniel Pinkwater’s contact information, these thoughts said. Let him know you acknowledge his genius. Ask him if, urge him to, receive his due. Ordinarily, I’d bat these thoughts away with their rejoinders: You will not reach him. Mr. Pinkwater is happy, living his undoubtedly bohemian best life, and how dare you plant this penny of thought in his contented cake?! Yet today…this morning…I became soluble to those cognitive globules.

My will was not my own, it seemed, as I opened my laptop. I had become subservient to a louder, fatter, more righteous need…Scrawny, divorced, deeply unsuccessful ex-lunchlady no more…I have become Slave to Spiegel. Hail Pinkwater! Cassandra of the Croc! May you reign 100 years without degredation, like plastic perforated shoes.

Humbly submitted,

Lydia Hadfield

Daniel replies:

Well, you see, it's not generally known, not that I make a secret of it, that I usually write, or dictate, in a state of trance, while curled up on the top shelf in the hall closet. My wife, a trusted friend, or really anybody available who has time, sits on a folding chair in the open closet door with a clipboard and a yellow legal pad, and takes down what I say. (People are always interested in a writer's method or process, so I hope this will satisfy you and possibly some others.) Anyway, very often my trance narration includes prophecies, unusual cures for illnesses, (such as an all-gherkin diet for knee injuries), locations of lost treasures, and all manner of surprising things. I never remember what I said, and since I also never read my books, your news about shoes is news to me.


Lisa Forbes

Play and Status Quos

December 6, 2020

Hello Mr. Pinkwater,

Happy belated birthday! Hmmm, I’m not sure where to start. Your book, The Big Orange Splot, was my all-time favorite book as a child. I know you wrote it and drew it up quickly but it holds some of my core values, which I think is why I was so drawn to it as a child. But, to be honest, I had totally forgotten about the book for many years. Life has a way of pulling you away from your true self, childish self, and internal values. Because society wants you to fit their mold (to live on a “neat street”). That, or the book was just packed away in a box as I grew up. 🙂

I recently found my old childhood copy which is tattered from so many reads. As I was re-reading it now as an adult, I was blown away by the message (or the one I take from it). My whole life, I’ve always hated status quos or having to do something in a certain way just because that’s how everyone else does it. To me, that’s a huge message in your book – follow your passions, your values, your dreams no matter what all the other deadpans say. (This seems like a long-winded way to get to my question but I thought context was important – questions coming, I promise!)

Currently, I teach at a university in Colorado. My research tends to challenge various status quos in our culture. A project I am working on is challenging the traditional lecture-based approaches to teaching higher ed and instead using more of a playful pedagogy even with adults. (check out professorsatplay.org). In order to do this, instructors must bust outside of the long-standing status quo of higher education that tells you to be the hierarchical expert that spews knowledge and empty vessel students. I think to teach differently, you have to have courage like Mr. Plumbean did to stand out and be different. I think it’s blasphemy that to be playful and value play, especially in professional spaces, you have to have courage to be different. To be ready to be looked at sideways because it’s not neat – it’s not ‘what we’ve always done.’ 

So, phew…that was a lot to ask: from The Big Orange Splot, I get the sense that you dislike status quos. I’d love to hear your opinion about that. Also, what is your take on play and being playful in adulthood? Are you a playful fella? And what connection (if any) do you see between play and “professionalism” (as we tend to think of it – rigid professionalism in my opinion). 

Okay. Done now. Thanks for sharing your beautiful mind with us over these years!

Lisa Forbes

Daniel replies:

I imagine you'll encounter more resistance from the students than your colleagues. But what do I know? My own most important educational experience was a 3-year apprenticeship, from the beginning of which comes this quote: "I believe it is impossible to teach Art, so I will teach you me, and leave it up to you what to make of it."


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