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5
Aug

Saturday cocktail: Brandy Crusta

BRANDY CRUSTA

  1. It’s a summer Saturday afternoon.
  2. The sun is still warm yet I notice even now
  3. …the days are getting shorter.
  4. Time to continue searching for the perfect summer cocktail.
  5. I’ve added a new item to my home bar….ice crusher.
  6. It is the greatest little gadget!

 

  • The Brandy Crusta was first created  in the 1850’s by an Italian.
  • Joseph Santini opened his ‘Jewel of the South‘ Saloon in New Orleans.
  • The recipe has 4 basic ingredients + lemon juice.
  • 45 ml  brandy
  • 14 ml  Maraschino Cherry liqueur
  • 22 ml Grand Marnier (or Cointreau)
  • 22 ml  lemon juice
  • dash of bitters ( I used Fernet-Branca)
  1. I poured the ingredients in a wine glass filled with crushed ice.
  2. Others use a cocktail shaker..shake with ice, strain and serve.
  3. I prefer to leave the ice in the glass….to keep the drink cool
  4. …and not TOO powerful.

Conclusion:

  • The taste is exquisite…
  • …a perfect after beach drink.
  • Just sit back, sip and enjoy the sunset!

 

 

5
Aug

W. Trevor: The Piano Teacher’s Pupil

  • Author: William Trevor
  • Title: The Piano Teacher’s Pupil
  • Published: 26 June 2107, The New Yorker Magazine
  • #DealMeIn2017  Challenge

 

Story:

  1. Miss Nightingale’s pupil arrives at a critical juncture in her life.
  2. The boy sat behind the piano…she knew she was in the presence of genius.
  3. His music “took her with him into paradise“.
  4. When the boy came for his Friday lesson it was
  5. the “halcyon afternoon at the center of Miss Nightengale’s life.”
  6. But there were also “echos with memories” in the room.

 

Boy’s influence: 

  1. Distress and bewilderment feed vivid dreams.
  2. She was prey to thoughts she never had before.
  3. In the dark she pushed that all away.
  4. She did not look to see what was no longer there.
  5. taunted by unanswered questions:
  • father’s chocolates way of buying good behavior?
  • father’s devotion inducement to stay with him in the house?
  • father’s devotion is selfishness  dressed-up?
  • lover…had he deceived her as he did his wife?

 

Epiphany: She had been the victim.

  1. …of the boy – shown off to her his other skill…he could upset her life.
  2. …of herself – shown no emotions, learned to hide her feelings
  3. …of her “careless credulity” – believing in the honesty of others
  4. …of  wanting to believe what seemed to be –
  5. loving father  is in truth a calculating man entrapping her in the home.
  6. devoted lover is in truth a man who belittled love.

 

Realization:

  1. All this was true but SOMETHING nagged
  2. ….was that something the truth she will never know?
  3. She felt she deserved to know the truth
  4. …owed to her as a moral obligation.
  5. It seemed a right, almost, that she should understand a little more.”

 

Disillusionment:

  1. The boy came back long afterwards…sat and played.
  2. There was mystery in the music.
  3. Miss Nightengale learns that…
  4. …”there was a balance struck…it was enough.”
  5. Miss Nightengale learns that…
  6. …mysteries in life are a marvel in itself.
  7. “She had no rights in this.”
  8. Accept the weaknesses, imperfections
  9. of others…fathers, lovers and pupils.
  10. Relish the love and joy they brought.

 

Last Thoughts:

  1. William Trevor is by far the master of the short story!
  2. He gives us a portrait of of ordinary people
  3. …lonely, the isolated and often the victims of society.
  4. Thank you Brona’s Books for inspiring me to ready
  5. your favorite short story author!

3
Aug

Sam Shephard ‘True West’

  • Author: S. Shepard
  • Title: Seven Plays
  • Published: 1984
  • Trivia:  S. Shepard died 31 July 2017….so sad.
  • #PulitzerPrize Drama 1979 Buried Child
  • #PulitzerPrize Drama nomination 1983 True West
  • #PulitzerPrize Drama nomination 1984 Fool for Love

Introduction:

  1. Sometimes when I read that an icon in literature has died
  2. ….I feel so sad.
  3. This week (31 July 2017) we lost  Sam Shephard.
  4. I will honor his legacy by reading Shephards seven plays.
  5. I was able to find 2 plays on Audible.com. Buried Child and True West.
  6. I want to feel, read, and hear the words of Sam Shepard.

 

Sam Shepard:

  1. Shepard is the author of forty-four plays as well as
  2. ….several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs.
  3. Shepard received Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for play  Buried Child.
  4. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
  5. ….for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983).
  6. Shepard was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1986.
  7. The members are chosen for life and have included
  8. …some of the leading figures in the American art scene.
  9. Sam Shepard dropped out of college but
  10. ….got his diploma at the School of Hard Knocks.

 

Table of Contents:

  • Buried Child – Pulitzer Prize 1979
  • True West – nominated for Pulitzer Prize
  • Curse of the Starving Class
  • The Tooth of Crime
  • La Turista
  • Tongues  and  Savage/Love
  • ….these are theater piece, experimental plots reduced to sounds and utterances.

True West:

Quickscan:

  1. Characters:  Austin – Lee (brothers) – Saul (producer) – Mom (comic relief)
  2. Location: outskirts of LA….border with the desert
  3. Timeline:   2,5 days
  4. Lighting: moonlight, candlelight and blazing yellow light (desert landscape)
  5. Sounds: chirping crickets , yapping coyotes and ticking on typewriter
  6. Major props: typewriter, TV, toasters, golf club, telephone cable

Plot:

  1. Two brothers clash. 
  2. Lee is the drifter, the man of the desert.
  3. He is envious of  his brother  Austin, the successful screenwriter.
  4. Austin feels his story (filled with  imagination) is the True West.
  5. Lee replies  “There’s no West anymore. It’s a dead issue”.

How is the stage set?

  1. Starkness with only light (moonlight, candle, blazing yellow light)
  2. …as an emotional beacon.
  3. Trashy or dirty  room…kitchen.
  4. It is a world of discards and throwaways.
  5. At the end of the play the interior is  strewn with debris.

 

What is the conflict?

  1. Austin (writer, educated)  argues that the West no longer exists
  2. …..it turns out that he really wants it to.
  3. He creates ‘his’ West in a fictionalized screenplay.
  4. Lee can’t go back to the West…. because it never really existed.
  5. The West is only in movies.
  6. The West is in the minds of both brothers as a place of escape
  7. …because they both are unhappy in with their present life.

 

What do you notice when you compare opening  with the closing scene?

  1. Opening:
  2. Night – Kitchen – sounds crickets in the night – moonlight fills the kitchen; candle illuminates the alcove.  Austin is seated at glass table hunched over a writing notebook, typewriter.  Lee with beer in hand is sitting on counter behind him.

 

  1. Closing:
  2. Mid-day – Kitchen that transforms into  desert-like landscape – No sound,  blazing heat of  a high-noon yellow light, stage strewn with debris.  Austin  and Lee assume a fighting stance and prepare to exchange blows…again.

 

  1. The first and final scenes are vastly different.
  2. The peaceful co-existence between brothers (act 1;1)  ends (act 2;9)
  3. in a violent strangulation brawl showing the decline in their relationship.

 

Do characters become wholly different in the course of the play?

  1. This took me time to figure out….
  2. Austin:  goes from playing a ROLE –> to playing himself
  3. Austin is confident and an accomplished writer in the beginning. Saul the producer is going to be his ‘big break. When Saul rejects the screenplay… Austin doubts his talent will help him achieve his dream. Austin decides to try Lee’s way of life.
  4. He becomes irresponsible….and starts stealing toasters!
  5. Lee: Austin:  goes from playing HIMSELF -> to playing a role!
  6. Beginning: Austin and Lee are complete opposites.
  7. Austin is clean cut, conventional writing a screenplay for producer, Saul.
  8. Lee is a drifter,  ill-kept and  burglarizes the neighborhood…a petty thief.
  9. End: Austin and Lee reverse character traits.
  10. Austin has assumed Lee’s habits of heavy drinking and petty crime.
  11. Lee ‘s movie idea has won Saul’s favor and Lee
  12. …starts to work hard to promote his ideas!

 

What did I notice on the audio book?

  1. Shepard takes great care to write extensive stage directions.
  2. Lighting, the position of the actors  and the actions without words
  3. …..that can transform the audience….is what I have to imagine.
  4. But the audio book…. produces the sounds.
  5. There were two main sound effects….the crickets and coyotes
  6. …in Shepard’s stage directions.
  7. Did I hear them on the audio book?
  8. All the sounds were wonderful…!
  9. I do recommend  reading the play
  10. …and then listening to it.
  11. The impact is so different.
  12. The audio book brought out the humor in the play
  13. …that I missed by just reading the script!
  14. Audio book:  1 hour 12 min.

 

Conclusion:

  1. Weak point: Introduction in this book by Yale University professor
  2. ….R. Gilman was a disappointment
  3. I expected more…his ‘heart’  was not into this essay.
  4. Seven plays are listed in the book
  5. Weak point: ….but really there are just five.
  6. The last two selections Tongues and Savage/Love
  7. ...theater pieces, experimental plots reduced to sounds and utterances.
  8. Shepard resists telling the audience what it should think.
  9. True West is an open-ended play.
  10. There is not denouement….Shepard hated endings.
  11. Weak point: This may  please some readers….and frustrate others.
  12. Strong point: with no formal training in theater
  13. …Shepard managed to  produce plays in which people could relate to.
  14. Strong point:   His characters are brutally honest.
  15. Strong point: audio book.
  16. I love plays and whenever  a good one is available on Audible I buy it.
  17. Sounds sets the mood….reveals character in the voices.
  18. Sound just makes everything better.

Last thoughts:

  1. There is more in these plays … than meets the eye!
  2. On the surface as you read the play ….it  is a just a
  3. ..back and forth slinging of verbal salvos between brothers
  4. When you take the time to
  5. ask yourself some questions ( see review)
  6. only then do you see the layers in the play.
  7. This surprised me and only confirms the depth of thought
  8. …that was in this man, Sam Shepard.
  9. You have to did deep.
  10. I could only muster the energy to review one play
  11. …you’ll have to discover the rest yourself!

Broadway Production  True West  2000

  1. Philip S. Hoffman and John C. Reilly
  2. They both were nominated for Tony Awards for their roles!

 

 

2
Aug

Shatterday and Other Stories

  • Author: Harlan Ellison (1934)
  • Title: Shatterday and Other Stories ( audiobook)
  • Genre: speculative fiction short stories
  • Trivia: 5 different narrators
  • Personal:  On about October 10, 2014, Ellison suffered a stroke.
  • Although his speech and cognition are unimpaired
  • ….he suffered paralysis on his right side.
  • #20BooksOfSummer
  • #DealMeIn2017 Challenge

 

Table of contents:

Delusion for a Dragon Slayer (Hugo nominee)
Shatterday (Nebula nominee)
Flop Sweat
In the Oligocenskie Gardens
Basilisk (Hugo & Locus winner; Nebula nominee)
Shattered Like a Glass Goblin (Nebula nominee)
Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54′ N, Longitude 77° 00′ 13″ W” (Hugo winner)
On the Downhill Side (Nebula nominee)
Susan
All the Lies That Are My Life (Hugo nominee)
Goodbye to All That  (Nebula nominee)

 

 

Story # 1: Delusion for a Dragonslayer – strange….

  1. This was a strange story to start my listening during a morning walk
  2. …but I did keep me listening.
  3. The narrator is the voice of Ellison sweeping up the verbal energy….
  4. His voice is rather irritating.
  5. Memorable lines: “I’m not me!”
  6. “This is heaven…heaven is what you mix all the days of your life,
  7. but you call it dreams.
  8. You create your own heaven.”
  9. Style: onomatopoeia
  10. words  which imitates the natural sounds of a thing.
  11. It creates a sound effect that mimics the thing described.
  12. shrieking, twisting, surging, shattered, crushed,
  13. tearing gouged gashes, chuckled with merriment.
  14. Boiling treacherous sea
  15. …the sound rigging shrieking like wounded beasts,

 

Story # 2:  Shatterday – best story in the book

  1. I liked this story.
  2. Just imagine….you dial your own phone number by accident
  3. ….and somebody picks up the receiver.
  4. Who is this? The answer is …it is yourself on the other end of the line!
  5. Fear pluses through you… you react: “Is this a gag?”
  6. Ellison cleverly shows the reader a character speaking to its better half…or is it his worst half?
  7. It was intriguing to listen to this conversation!
  8. Memorable line:Which of us is me? And how does me get rid of him?”
  9. Style: explore the characters through dialogue this colors the personalities of the characters,
  10. creates a conflict between ME vs HIM.

 

Story # 3:    Floop Sweat – creepy…but good!

  1. Ellison introduces this story explaining it was written as a challenge.
  2. He was given the topic at 1 pm and had to read his
  3. short story the same evening at 8 pm on a LA talk radio show.
  4. The story was very amusing….but you have to be ready for a frenzied last 2 minutes.
  5. Memorable line: “Well, we’re back with
  6. Brother Michael Darkness, the head of the Euchite Sect…”
  7. What is floop sweat? …you’ll have to read the story!

 

Conclusion:

  1. Ellison has a typewriter which he pecks on with two fingers.
  2. He has never used a computer or word-processing program.
  3. He is irascible and fearless when it comes to revealing what he believes to be true.
  4. He is quite character.
  5. If you have any interest in fantasy or fiction or science fiction
  6. ….Ellison’s genius and sharp wit are unsurpassed.
  7. Personally Ellison’s stories do not resonate with me.
  8. Harlan Ellison’s writing is an acquired taste….like olives.
  9. You like them….or you do not.
  10. This type of ‘speculative fiction’ was hard to swallow!
  11. Narration: Harlan Ellison is NOT a born narrator.
  12. …he gets too excited, goes off the rails and ruins the mood of the story.
  13. I wish the entire book was narrated by
  14. Stefan Rudnicki.
  15. His voice is mesmerizing!

Last Thoughts:

  1. Reading Harlan Ellison stories is like Russian Roulette…a reckless activity.
  2. There will always be selections I will pass by….
  3. …but I’m sure there are a few ‘gems’ yet to discover.

 

My notes:

  1. Delusion for a Dragon Slayer (story #1)
  2. Shatterday (story #2)
  3. Flop Sweat (story #3)

 

  1. In the Oligocenskie Gardens 
  2. Bombastic waterfall of words…no sense.
  3. Not for me…

 

  1. Basilisk  – surreal description of pain and torture of soldier in Viet Nam…
  2. Dragon breath, lilliputian arrows, his face came away in handfuls,
  3. wind death in his lungs….sigh.

 

  1. Shattered Like a Glass Goblin
  2. Kris and Rudy in a  drug hazed hippie commune….bah.

 

  1. Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans:
  2. Latitude 38° 54′ N, Longitude 77° 00′ 13″ W
  3. …this is not a short storybut a novelette!…too long, I lost interest.
  4. I can only take small doses of Harlan Ellison.

 

  1. On the Downhill Side
  2. Two ghosts stroll through the Vieux Carré of New Orleans,
  3. using familiar landmarks…good.
  4. This story was more gothic’
  5. ..but I still prefer Edgar Allan Poe.

 

  1. Susan
  2. These sentmental impressions must be based on his
  3. 5th wife Susan Toth.
  4. In 1986, Harlan Ellison married Susan Toth.
  5. He seems to have found at least some stability
  6. ….with her as their marriage is still lasting.

 

  1. All the Lies That Are My Life
  2. Larry, the narrator, attends the funeral of Jimmy… a writing  friend.
  3. This was good…..and I wish the entire book was narrated by
  4. Stefan Rudnicki.

 

  1. Goodbye to All That
  2. A man climbs to a mystical peak in search of enlightenment.
  3. …. meh. Shallow, pointless.

 

1
Aug

Loving

 

Introduction:

  1. Henry Green was a very private man.
  2. His family were British aristocrats and
  3. …Henry lived in  an ‘upstairs-downstairs’ society.
  4. All his life Henry Green loved being ‘one of the lads’
  5. …and spent many hours ‘downstairs’.
  6. This is was the source of Green’s ability to sketch life from
  7. …the servant’s perspective.
  8. Green attended Oxford University with Evelyn Waugh….but dropped out.
  9. He claimed when one is too intellectual one forgets how to feel.

 

Quickscan:

  1. Loving takes place at an Irish castle in the early 1940’s.
  2. With the death of an old butler Mr. Eldon his successor
  3. Charley Raunce  said: “This time I’ll take his old chair, I must.”
  4. A ring belonging to Mrs. Tennant, the lady of the house, goes missing.
  5. One of the castle’s peacocks is killed by the cook’s young nephew.
  6. Edith, a housemaid whom Raunce adores, discovers
  7. Mrs. Jack (Mrs. Tennant’s daughter-in-law)
  8. in bed with Capt. Davenport who isn’t her husband.
  9. The book is 96% dialogue, very little description and
  10. …70 scene changes!
  11. 36 downstairs – 18 upstairs – 15 garden – 1 at the beach

 

Symbols:

  1. The ring  is precious.
  2. The peacocks are royal birds that are
  3. kept on grounds of grand mansions.
  4. Both of these objects represent a privileged life
  5. of the gentry that is disappearing.
  6. There is a war going on and times are changing.
  7. Henry Green cleverly let’s these objects
  8. disappear, appear, disappear again and suddenly turn up!
  9. Ring: misplaced, perhaps in a sink drain, then hidden in a pillow case….
  10. stolen and ends up in an  peacock eggshell!
  11. Peacock: killed by cook’s nephew,
  12. Mrs. Welch buries it to remove the  evidence.
  13. The carcass is dug up by the dog Badger and Raunce the butler
  14. …hangs it outside a corn bin in the garden.

 

Conclusion:

  1. Believe it or not Henry Green is able to weave a wonderful
  2. story around  these strange plot narratives.
  3. The reader discovers the world of
  4. ‘upstairs and downstairs’ that Green describes so well
  5. It starts with:  “Once upon a time…”
  6. and ends with: ” ..and lived happily ever after.”
  7. Loving is considered Green’s masterpiece.
  8. Make a cup to tea, some cookies and enjoy this book!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

31
Jul

The New Yorker 24 July 2017

Cover:  “Grounded”  by Barry Blitt

This week we read about  Barry Blitt (1958) . He is a Canadian-born American artist. Blitt creates his works in traditional pen and ink, as well as watercolors.

He won first prize best cover of the year 2006 depicting President Bush being flooded in the Oval Office after Hurricane Katrina It is  entitled “Deluged”  and appeared on the Sept. 19, 2005 issue

President Barack Obama chose one of Blitt’s New Yorker covers to hang in the White House. The cover depicts the President picking the family dog at the same time as he is vetting candidates for his national security cabinet.

 Conclusion:

I had difficulty reading through this issue of The New Yorker.

It seems my favorite (…perhaps the best) writers are lounging on a beach somewhere.

Fortunately there were three writers  that did capture my attention.

Danielle Allen : Personal Historya political theorist and the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard. Danielle Allen is an academic and gives us a rivieting story about her cousin. “My cousin became a convicted felon in his teens. I tried to make sure he got a second chance. What went wrong?”  This was a very good article about Allen’s struggle to save a beloved cousin from sinking into the swamp of LA South Central criminal world. (photo: Sharon Renee Hartley)

Hua Hsu: Book critic –  contributor to The New Yorker. He is currently an associate professor of English at Vassar College.   This article was very informative…as I did not know much about Bob Marley. He  became a model for how artistic legacy has turned into an industry of its own.

Amazing:  2016, Forbes calculated that Marley’s estate brought in twenty-one million dollars, making him the year’s sixth-highest-earning “dead celebrity,”…”

 

 

Hilton Als : Theater critic –  Hilton Als, a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1994, has been awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
Hilton Als never disappoints….his reviews are literary works of art,   magnificiant!
He mentions some American Theater playwrights in this review  who are  serious, original, and deeply ambitious. Perhaps their plays might interest you:
Annie Baker, Thomas Bradshaw, Lucas Hnath, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Richard Maxwell, Sarah Ruhl, and Young Jean Lee.
This week Hilton Als reviews:
Pipeline by Dominique Morisseau is an American playwright.
Morisseau grew up in Detroit, Michigan. Her mother’s family is from Mississippi.
Her father’s family is from Haiti
Morisseau is on the list of Top 20 Most Produced Playwrights
in America 2015–16, with 10 productions of her plays being produced
Plot:

A mother’s hopes for her son clash with an educational system rigged against him in PIPELINE.  This looks like an explosive play to read or if you are lucky

….to watch at The Lincoln Center in NYC.

This is a deeply moving story of a mother’s fight to give her son a future — without turning her back on the community that made him who he is.

Playwright: Dominique Morisseau      #MustRead play   Pipeline

 

 


James Wood:  Book critic – staff writer and book critic at The New Yorker since 2007.

Moving Kings    by  Joshua Cohen

  1. I always look forward to reading book reviews….but cannot for the life of me
  2. ..enjoy James Woods’ comments.
  3. His Book review  lacks a certain sensitivity that makes the article work.
  4. You have to be careful to write at the level of ALL the readers in the audience.
  5. This is not always an easy task.
  6. Unfortunately I went through Woods’ review asking myself:
  7. “Really, what does this mean?
  8. Am I crazy? Why can’t I figure out what this means”
  9. I will close with a few examples of phrases I had difficulty with:
  10. — his fiction displays the stretch marks of its originality
  11. What does this mean? Typical phrase to confuse instead of clarify!
  12. — sentences are loaded with the refuse of the real,
  13. with ….informational surplus of postmodernity. (sigh)
  14. sentence is also a micro-adventure in abundance!
  15. — ..David’s Jewishness has been atavistically reflexive… (hugh?)
  16. –unpersuaded by Cohen’s thematic ambitions, by this stabbing at similitudes
  17. I rest my case.
  18. This is the last review by James Wood I’m ever reading!

 

Moving Kings
30
Jul

Hug your dog start reading!

Illustration:  M. Ulriksen in his book Dogs Rule, Nonchalantly

 

  1. Lists were my downfall in June.
  2. I was drowning in them…..trying to come up for air.
  3. After many weeks reading where my mood took me
  4. BARTENDING at La Floridita Bar in Havana (for Hemingway)
  5. CHASING  a corrupt  wheeler-dealer in New Jersey (CF)
  6. WATCHING  history unfold during the Civil Rights Movement 1960-63 (history)
  7. TIME-TRAVELING back to the Middle Ages in the middle of The Plague (SF)
  8. …it is time to get back to some structure in my reading.
  9. Brona@brona’sbooks posted her LONG AND SHORT OF IT comments
  10. and now I will choose a few books from her lists…and start reading!

 

Aussie Read:

Waiting  by P. Salom – shortlist Miles Franklin Award

Philip Salom is well known as a poet and believes this background helped create the mischievous narrator for his acclaimed novel Waiting.

Waiting revolves around four central figures. Big and Little, two of the world’s marginal people, live in a rooming house in inner Melbourne. Jasmin is from another world. She teaches semiotics at a university. Angus, the landscaper who ost his house in a fire in the Adelaide Hills.

 

UK Read : 

Lincoln in the Brado  by G. Saunders –  longlist Man Booker Award

Now 58, Saunders has written four short story collections and one full length novel: Lincoln in the Bardo, which explores the short life and death of US President Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie.

 

28
Jul

Kennedy and King

  • Author: Steven Levingston
  • Title: Kennedy and King
  • Published: 2017
  • #20BooksOfSummer

 

Introduction:

  1. Kennedy and King traces the emergence of two of the 20th C ‘s greatest leaders
  2. their powerful impact on each other and
  3. …on the shape of the civil rights battle between 1960 and 1963.
  4. These two men from  different worlds
  5. profoundly influenced each other’s personal development.

 

Conclusion:

  1. I read and listened to this book.
  2. The audio brought the story to life with the whisperered voices
  3. …of Jackie Kennedy and Coretta King
  4. …JFK’s  Boston Kennedy accent
  5. …MLK’s booming preaching voice of King and
  6. ….Governor John Patterson of Alabama as the snarling white segregationist.
  7. His strong stand on race earned him the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan.
  8. This book also brought back memories of  the 1960 – 1963 years.
  9. As a child still in grammar school….
  10. I was just realizing what was happening in politics in America.
  11. At the age of 10-11 yr …my understanding of the violence and
  12. …lack of civil rights in the southern states was nihil.
  13. This book shone light on the shadows in my memories  that I had
  14. …kept after seeing the struggle for civil rights spread out in
  15. ...Life, Look, and Saturday Evening Post magazines.
  16. Steven Levingston’s Kennedy and King
  17. …is masterpiece of historical narrative.
  18. Every page sparkles with the storytelling of those turbulent years….
  19. …that I tried to remember.
  20. I would not be surprised if this book at got nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
  21. Perhaps…it could win!
  22. #MustRead….or  #MustListen

 

Last thoughts:

Here are a few notes I made high-lighting some facts that I was unaware of.

The book begins with the usual backround information about Kennedy and King’s youth and early careers  as senator of Massachusetts and Minister in Montgomery Alabama.

New: I remember the excitement around the 1960 election Kennedy vs Nixon. JFK’s face was on all the magazines flashing his famous Irish smile. What I did not realize at the time….
Kennedy between May 1955-October 1957 was secretly hospitalized 9 times (44 days) while he was launching his vice-presidential and presidential bids.

Kennedy was in pain (injuries to back, Addison’s Disease and many more aliments) for about half his life.

New: Kennedy did not know about the ‘real’ situation in the deep south even 8 months before the election in 1960. He had traveled all over Europe but had hardly set a foot in the ‘red states’ in the south.
Kennedy desperately wanted the backing of the prominent singer Harry Belafonte. The singer refused and told Kennedy that every hour he spent talking to him….he  SHOULD BE talking to Martin Luther King.

New: the role of Harris Wofford in the civil rights movement.

Harris Wofford white lawyer who studied in India. He was an advocate of Ghandi’s approach to politics and protest.

He and King spent many hours discussing ways to adapt Ghandi’s tactics to civil rights demonstrations. This was a powerful new form of political persuasion. King believed that the art of politics involved the skilful dramatic use of symbolic acts.

New: I did not know that MLK visited India…so he could meet with people who had worked with Ghandi.

New: One of the most prominent female civil rights activist….and I never heard of her. I would love to read a biography about Diane Nash! May-December 1961 demonstration Freedom Riders who desecrated interstate travel.

 

Ch 64 – The Constitution was color-blind…(and in my opinion…still is)

Ch 69 – 1962 MLK wrote in The Nation Magazine: ‘The President proposed a 10-year plan to put a man on the moon, ..yet we do not have a plan to put a Negro in the State Legislature of Alabama!” (Ouch!)

Ch 71 – I never heard of the Cosmos Club! The Cosmos Club is a private social club in Washington D.C. It endures as a an institution for the upper crust. Its rolls have included three U.S. presidents, two vice presidents, a dozen Supreme Court justices, 32 Nobel Prize winners and 56 Pulitzer Prize winners. Although the membership of more than 3,000 includes women and blacks, these are fairly recent developments in the club’s 132 years. The Cosmos Club didn’t end its male-only rule until 1988.

 

27
Jul

What do I do with Campari, Marguerite Duras?

  • Ever since I read Les petits chevaux de Tarquinia
  • …by Margariet Duras….I’ve have had a bottle of Campari in the house.
  • But I don’t know what to do with Campari!
  • Duras used the aperitif as a motif in her book.
  • Bitter Campari
  • The pervasive consumption of alcohol throughout the story
  • …Campari is mentioned 50 times
  • sharpens the feeling of boredom, emptiness  during the vacation.
  • As the character Diana says:    “C’est la magique!” (pg 48)
  • I finally found a cocktail that I can enjoy this summer with Duras!

 

Campari Spritz:

  1. It’s served with a green olive, which is a surprisingly
  2. delicious partner for the tangy, slightly bitter cocktail.

UPDATE:   28 July 2017

  • I increased the Prosecco to 120 ml
  • …and did not bother with the club soda!
  • This is a delicious summer cocktail!
  1. Ingredients
  2. 60 ml  Prosecco or other sparkling wine
  3. 30 ml  club soda
  4. 60 ml  Campari
  5. garnish: 1 large green olive, or 3 small olives

    • Author: M Duras
    • Title: Les petits chevaux de Tarquinia
    • Published: 1953
    • Language: French

     

    ANALYSIS:

    1. Explain the title. In what way is it suitable to the story?
    The group wants to visit Les Petits Chevaux de Tarquinia (pg 160 and 166, 217). Some members in the group must decide to ‘stay together’ or refuse to join the trip.

    2. What is the predominant element in the story?
    Setting: Oppressive heat, no wind, sun burning like a furnace influences the character’s mood.
    There is no rain to quench this parched earth. The only escape is the sea.
    There is a forest fire creeping slowly towards the village, a river that marks the dividing line for Sara (main character) between staying in a loveless marriage or crossing over to the other side and a new life.

    3. Who is the single main character about. whom the story centres?
    Sara is the main character.

    4. What sort of conflict confronts the leading character or characters?
    a. External – Sara is trying to overcome a personal crisis in her marriage.
    b. Internal – Sara must choose: love with it’s ups and downs or the thrill of desire.

    5. How is the conflict resolved?
    Sara has difficulty saying what she thinks about her marriage. Finally she has reached a point of no return. Sara and Jacques decide to let each other be ‘free’.  If Sara returns to him…then he knows it was her choice.

    6. How does the author handle characterisation?
    a. Description – all the characters are nameless except for the members in the group. This is done to intensify the reader’s focus on these individuals.
    Finally we know name ‘homme’ (Jean, pg 112, 172, 173) and nanny (Jeanne, pg 116) but Duras does not use the names in the rest of the story.
    b. Conversation –  personalities emerge during  the conversation among SJGL.
    Half way through the book Sara decides to say the truth for a change to her husband after being seduced by ‘homme’:  I feel like cheating (have an affair)….like you do!
    Could this be the point of no return for Sara? (pg 114)

    7. Who tells the story? What point of view is used?
    a. Third person narrator

    8. Where does the primary action take place?
    Characters have been in the isolated Italian vacation village for two weeks when the book starts. They are lethargic, bored, and desperate for a cool breeze while spinning ice cubes in their drinks.

    9. What is the season? time of day?
    Torrid heat, sun burning like a furnace, summer vacation in isolated Italian village.

    10. How much time does the story cover? timeline?
    Four days

    11. How does the story get started? What is the initial incident?
    Sara and Jacques are waiting for their friends to arrive Gina and Ludi.
    They always vacation with them.

    12. Briefly describe the rising action of the story.
    Slowly cracks are showing in this ‘group friendship.’ (pg 97) The tension increases when a mystery  man (homme) arrives in the village. He has his eye on Sara. She is swept away by the idea of being a object of desire.

    13. What is the high point, or climax, of the story?
    After 3 days of seduction ‘homme’ waits for Sara to meet him for their night of love.

    14. Discuss the falling action or close of the story.
    I’d rather not  reveal any information about this because it would spoil the story.

    15. Does this story create any special mood?
    Boredom of the characters drips off the pages….still I feel a ominous tension.
    Friendship (in group) can be just as complicated as love (between partners).

    16. Is this story realistic or true to life?
    Love: Sara’s situation is universal: by getting what she most desires (the thrill of being object of desire for ‘homme’) she loses more than she gets.
    Desire is for the moment, love is for a lifetime.
    Friendship: Jacques describes their group think:
    We are all fools, but we are endowed with the same stupidity, that’s why we get along well with each other. (pg 77)

    17. Are the events  presented in flashback or in chronological order? (structure)
    The book is divided into four parts representing four chronological days.
    There was one strange flashback about the death of Sara’s brother. When he died so did her childhood (pg 54). It never connected to any part of the story. Very strange.

    19. What is the general theme of the story?
    Allow yourself the possibility of failure (Sara decision to yield to her desire or not).
    Only then do you increase your chances of success (keeping her marriage together).

    20. Did you identify with any of the characters?
    ‘l’homme’: I didn’t really have much interest in bored women on vacation (Sara, Diana and Gina).
    I did feel  an intense interest for ‘homme’. He was 30 yr., nameless throughout the book, no face, no features. But he was a constant threat. Duras used this ‘suspense’ to keep the reader enthralled. Who is he? What is he planning to do?

    24. Does the story contain a single effect or impression for the reader?
    The main character asks what is love?
    “Love is an predetermined misfortune, you can’t escape it.” (pg 72)

    25. Name one major personality trait of each leading character.
    Sara does not say what she thinks. She conceals her feelings.

    26. Does the story have a message? what was the purpose of the author ?
    The effect of group membership on individual behavior.
    At times it can feel oppressing (just like the hear), yet it can be the support you need at difficult times in your life.

    27. Does this story contain any of the following elements?
    a. Symbolism: The river: When Sara is kissed for the first time by ‘homme’ she sees the reflection on the river in his eyes.  The river represents the freedom Sara can have (leave a loveless marriage) if she only dares to let go and flow with the river.
    b. Motif: Bitter Campari. The pervasive consumption of alcohol throughout the story (mentioned 50 x) sharpens the feeling of boredom, emptiness  during the vacation. As Diana says:
    “C’est la magique!” (pg 48)
    c. Irony: Sara refuses an invitation for a boat ride, she wants to consult with the group. (pg 29). Ironically on pg 76 she says  ‘l’homme’ should think and do what he wants! This is an important element in the story group vs individual.

    Conclusion:
    There is NO action…only and exchange of thoughts, feelings, desires and fears.
    Yet I read every page.
    Duras describes the monotonous vacation days of 4 middle age adults.
    Each part has these basic scenes: vacation  bungalow, swim at the beach, drinks at the hotel and back to the bungalow.
    Strong point: the tension Duras created around ‘mystery man, Sara’s eagerness to go on his boat (even though she cannot swim) and her four year old child (mystery man takes a strong interest in the young boy).
    Weak point: subplot about an elderly couple who refuse to sign son’s death certificate. This part of the story felt out of place with the rest of the  languid mood.

26
Jul

The Bloody Mary Book

  • Author: Ellen Brown
  • Title: The Bloody Mary Book
  • Published: 2017
  • Trivia: National Bloody Mary day is January 1
  • ….I’m a little late celebrating!
  • #20BooksOfSummer

 

Introduction:

  1. Well, here is a book ‘HOT OFF THE PRESSES’
  2. If you ‘google’  around the internet you will probably
  3. …discover  the same
  4. anecdotes I have included in this blog post.
  5. Let’s see if Ellen Brown had something new to say!

 

Remedy for hangover:

  1. Salt and spices replace lost electrolytes
  2. while the vitamin C, vitamin B6
  3. …and lycopene ease the havoc that
  4. overindulgence has wrought on the body.
  5. You are better off with a ‘Virgin Bloody Mary’
  6. on the day after!

 

Preparation:

  1. I like a Bloody Mary quite simple, lots of ice, a garnish of with celery
  2. I’m not crazy on the wacky garnishes you see – bacon, prawns and the like.
  3. I do like a vodka Bloody Mary
  4. …which is definitely the more standard version.

 

 

L/R:      Hemingway and his wife Mary, Nancy Hawks, Spencer Tracy, George Jessel, unknown.

  • There are many stories about the origin and naming of the Bloody Mary
  • …as there are variations on the recipe.

 

  1. Pete Petiot:  bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, 1921
  2. Story:  Petiot named the drink ‘Bloody Mary’ after a woman who sat at the bar for
  3. …long hours pining for a boyfriend who seldom kept appointments with her.

 

  1. Colin Field: head bartender of Ritz Paris’s Hemingway Bar, 1950’s
  2. Story: The doctors had forbidden Hemingway to drink.
  3. Mary his wife  had taken this seriously and placed Ernest under close watch.
  4. Stealth and cunning were needed…and the bartender devised the ingenious mixture
  5. …a drink packed with alcohol that could not be detected on the writer’s breath!
  6. Hemingway was so pleased that he got the better of his ‘bloody wife’ that he
  7. …named the drink after her, Bloody Mary!

 

  1. History: Queen Mary
  2. Story: Some attribute the name to notorious Queen Mary Tudor
  3. who executed hundreds of Protestants in the name of
  4. Catholicism during her short five-year reign from 1553 to 1558.

 

Entertaining trends:

  1. Look at this appetizing display in a café bar  for DYI  
  2. Virgin Bloody Mary’s    (no alcohol)

 Here is a Bloody Mary at the Breakwater in Stonington Connecticut….
…I’ll have to work on my garnishes!  Thanks Kathy for the snapshot!
Bloody Mary Cocktail
  • 50 ml vodka
  • 100 ml fresh tomato juice
  • Dash balsamic vinegar
  • 6 drops of Tabasco
  • 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 shot fresh lemon juice (15 ml)
  • 2 pinch ground pepper
  • 2 pinch  salt
  • Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into an
  • ice-filled long drink glass garnish celery and lemon wedge!

First impression?  

  1. VERY REFRESHING!
  2. ….and I LOVED  the sound of a real cocktail shaker
  3. filled with ice…and ingredients!
  4. It was just exciting!
  5. ps….I just finished my cocktail
  6. …and would love a second one…but I will restrain myself!
  7. Next week…..a new cocktail…a new blogpost!

Shot glass: