And now for something completely different!

A nice long news roundup. If you do not live in New York, you can skip #2 and #3; if you do not like music, you can skip #1 and 4; and if you do not like mail, then #5 is not for you. Or you can read everything. Your call.

1. My dear friend Miss Kathryne Beebe marked her 27th birthday Tuesday, and we celebrated by seeing a musical about unwashed peasants, flying cows, horned (and horny) knights, and snotty Frenchmen -- to wit, SPAMALOT. Katy is doing her doctorate in medieval history on monks and nuns, so her favorite part was the pas de deux between the putative Abelard and Heloise; but I preferred the song-and-dance number "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and the quasi-inspirational ballad "Find Your Grail." (The program is great too.) It is, all in all, a very silly musical, but the silliness is expertly done, and we had a fantastic time, with dinner afterward at Bistro de Vent. Happy birthday, Katy!

2. A request for all my New York friends who read this (the easy one): If you would be so kind as to save your MetroCards for me, I am collecting them for a new ongoing art project. Thank you!

3. A request for all my New York friends who read this (the onerous one): On Saturday, April 16, the New York Carleton Club will be participating in New York Cares' annual Spring Clean-Up Day -- and you can join us EVEN IF you didn't go to Carleton! We'll be working at Inwood Hill Park up on the northern tip of Manhattan, helping to clean the drainage system that runs for miles throughout the park, which has gotten clogged with leaves over the last few months. As our site captain says, "It may not sound like the most glamorous assignment, but it’s a vital task that must be accomplished in order for the park to continue functioning – we will really be making a vast difference and improvement with just one day of work!!" This is a marvelous opportunity for all we cooped-up New Yorkers to get out and experience nature as spring comes creeping in, and a marvelous opportunity to give back to the city of New York, which gives so much to us all. The project starts at the park at 9:30 a.m., and I will bring doughnuts and coffee for everyone. I would LOVE to have all my WONDERFUL friends come out and join me in this EXTREMELY FUN day of good useful work. Yes, this means YOU, you New Yorker. You can e-mail me for more information. Thank you!

4. For those of you who are interested, I picked Modest Mouse's "Good News for People Who Like Bad News" as my last free CD from BMG. Modest Mouse beat out Al Green, Nina Simone, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Justin Timberlake, Wilco, U2, Beyonce, "A Little Night Music," a Best of Bollywood compilation, and the rest of the BMG catalogue on the basis of two factors: (1) I love "Float On" and (2) this CD is actual hip modern rock and therefore utterly unlike anything else in my collection. Though the fact that "Good News" has been out for a year now probably means it isn't hip anymore. And the fact that I use the word "hip" probably means I'm not either. Oh well, I try.

5. A few weeks from now, I'll be going on a trip to Germany with five other children's book editors. In keeping with my Resolution to send more mail, and because, hey, I like getting mail too, I'm making a limited-time-only, all-expenses-paid, operators-are-standing-by offer: If you post an interesting comment to the blog between now and April 15, I will send you a postcard from Germany! I cannot promise I will say anything of significance in the postcard, but hey! It will be mail from Germany! And how is that not cool? Please note that if I do not know you, you will need to leave your name and snail-mail address as well as a comment. (Actually, it's not a bad idea to leave those things even if I do know you.) And if you've left a comment prior to this, sorry, it doesn't count -- you have to say something new within the allotted time frame. Here, I will make a few inflammatory statements to get you started:

The Red Sox will never again win the World Series.

Jane Austen is the greatest writer the English language has ever produced.

"Ice Princess"? Best. Movie. Ever.

Post away!