What I learned on the weekend

First, that there are tea aficionados, just as there are wine aficionados. I met the first in a tea store, and learned the difference between first flush and second flush darjeeling. (Apparently, the spring picking results in a lighter tea.) My second conoiseur was a landscaper who came to repair my side flower beds, and told me about his 100-year-old varieties and the temperature- and moisture-controlled case in which he stored them. Who knew there were such people in the world?

Second, that the Smurfs can be interpreted as a Stalinist state, with overtones of racism and antisemitism. I learned this from a CBC radio interview with Antoine Bueno, author of The Little Blue Book. His arguments are both entertaining and convincing. Of course, the creator of the Smurfs didn’t mean to create these themes — a reminder that we writers have to be careful about the assumptions and prejudices we bring to the page.

Third, that Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books have sold over 100 million copies. As more than one person often reads the same copy of a book, that’s hundreds of millions of people interested in love and vampires.

The world is a wildly unusual place.

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