Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's all about Me

Cynthia Grenier reviews a book about four tipplers.

I got to know some of these worthies in varying degrees of acquaintanceship during the sixties and seventies. ....At that time I wrote a column reviewing films and theater three times weekly in the International Herald Tribune. Burton read me, found he agreed mostly with what I had had to say, and began passing me scripts he was receiving practically every day to get my reactions.

Friendship with Elizabeth was slower to develop, but before long, we two females were merrily referring to “your Richard” and “my Richard” (Grenier). Our two Richards found quite a bit in common—apart from drink—and Burton wound up giving “my Richard” a very fine jacket blurb for his first novel...

Then a bit of inside information which the average clod is not in a position to know, not being a friend of celebrities:

In passing, let me note that the author rather irritatingly keeps referring to Miss Taylor as “Liz,” an appellation she never used herself, nor did she appreciate people addressing her thus. And in terms of the Burtons being heavy drinkers: Although her Richard, indeed, could consume a substantial amount of alcohol, in the two years that I spent a fair amount of time in his company, I never found him unable to recite verse, from Shakespeare to Dylan Thomas, other than clearly and flawlessly by the end of any long evening.

I am dying to know what appellation Elizabeth Taylor prefers for herself. The possibilities are endless: Eliza, Liza, Betty, Betsy....even Elizabeth.

And then there's more yada yada about the other souses the book discusses whom our author was personally acquainted with. About the book itself, she has little or nothing to say. It's all about Her.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Buying flowers


Recently I discovered that no matter how long I saved my money I would never be a millionaire.  So I  decided to squander it on flowers

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nine-day traffic jam

to be cleared up by September.  Mid-September. 

And I thought traffic in New Jersey was bad.

Berkshire Botanical Garden



Aug 20, 2010, taken with my iPhone

Monday, August 23, 2010

Loathsome immigrants

It's okay to hate them.

Back from the Berkshires

Had a wonderful visit to the Berkshires.  The highlight of the trip was a concert at Tanglewood.  We had the cheapest seats, but were conveniently located in front of a large video screen which was filming the orchestra.  It was so beautifully done that I could hardly pay attention to the music.  Dawn Upshaw (pictured above) was  the soloist.  She's expanded considerably since this picture was taken, but she has a lovely voice.  



Monday, August 16, 2010

Hairy site

The most important thing about Wikileaks.

From stylite, by way of Tim Blair.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Guide to fonts

All you need to know.

Tip from the fourth checkraise. Go read it. It's good.

Wonderful tribute

from a British diva.

It's all about Headley Court, a facility for wounded British men and women:

Talking to some of our young men who have experienced tremendous injury was truly humbling. Their spirit is immense and their courage and success unbelievable in the face of what would seem to be impossible odds. Hearing a triple amputee of 28 talking about his plans for the future, the work they are all doing to rebuild themselves and get back into the Army or civilian life, leaves all of the rest of us behind in terms of courage and achievement.



There will always be an England, won't there?

Old guys at shul

My grandfather, who we called zayde, used to go to shul on Saturdays and hang out with other old guys.  At times I would go with him, and his old guy pals would pat me on the head, ask me how old I was and what grade I was in, and sometimes give me hard candy, which was always awful.  Once one of them offered me a pinch of snuff, so I could see what it was like.  It was unspeakable.  Why in the world do/did people use snuff?

The synagogue was at the top of a steep flight of stairs.  I don't know how anyone climbed them, let alone older people.  People were different in those days.  They were built differently.   The ability to climb stairs has apparently been bred out of the human race nowadays.  Of course those old people were a lot younger than I am nowadays, but they seemed ancient to me.

The shul was old guy headquarters.  They would sit and daven, then get up and greet their friends, sometimes go out and stand on the steps to chat and exchange greetings.  During services, many of them would daven, but others would talk or just generally wander around.  The place was their club, coffeehouse, and bar combined.  The women, few of whom came except on high holidays or other important occasions,  would sit upstairs.  I was only up there once or twice, preferring to hang out with the other kids, either downstairs or some other place where we had no business being.

The children, mostly boys, would dart out the doors chasing each other or would go in the back yard and throw spitballs at each other.  Sometimes they would pull my pigtails and run away.

Services were interminable.  Eons would pass as they droned on.  My eyes glazed over until I was roused from my stupor at the singing of Ayn Keloheynu, which marked the termination of the proceedings.

There was a social hall of sorts buried in the bowels of the place, and after services the congregation would gather for a snack: pickled herring, gefilte fish, cake or cookies.  The old men would have a shot of what they called broynfen (whiskey), straight, and a few nibbles.

The shul is long gone.  It was sold to a black church maybe 40 years ago, when all the Jews moved to nicer neighborhoods.   Bubbe and zayde's house, which was within walking distance, belongs to my brother and me.  We haven't been there in years.  One of mother's client/friends lives there and pays us a nominal sum.  The neighborhood is totally different nowadays.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Brilliant sofware engineers

I have a Technorati account but I can't access it. When I try to sign in, I get this e-mail.

There is more than Technorati.com user account sharing email address ******

To reset your password, please choose one of the usernames listed below and enter it in the Password Reset form at http://technorati.com/account/resetpassword/

We will be consolidating accounts in the future, so please consider using just one account, or using separate email addresses for each account you use.

So I go back to their site and click on reset/password,
  and,
I get another, identical e-mail.  I've gotten seven so far.

They don't make sense, even grammatically.  There should be a one between than and Technorati in the first line.

So...I can't access Technorati.

The hell with them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How exactly did we become responsible for other people's hunger?

When and by what mechanism did we adopt a whole nation, so that if they are hungry it is our fault?

It seems, then, that those principally responsible for the situation in which 45 per cent of children are stunted because of malnutrition and 9 million people lack enough food are foreigners. 

It is the same mechanism that makes the Israelis responsible for providing electricity to the Gaza strip.  Funny how that works.

There is some good news, however.  Let's look at the bright side:

The Lancet quotes the head of World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, as saying that the health services of North Korea would be the envy of the developing world. According to the WHO, North Korea has made progress not only in the field of infant and maternal mortality, but in the reduction of deaths during surgery. Since The Lancet goes on to quote, by contrast, the testimony of a man who had his leg amputated without anesthetic for a broken ankle, while being held down by five medical assistants, it is rather alarming to think of what North Korean surgery must have been like before the improvement took place. Only four medical assistants to hold patients down, perhaps?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Art, artists, readers, writers, books

The first Friday of every month  in Wilmington the Art Loop takes place.  Vans are laid on by the city to take interested viewers from one studio or museum to another, so artists can get recognition and validation  for their work.  There are wine and snacks, and a festive air prevails.  I usually go, and it's a lot of fun.

The work varies greatly in quality.  Some of the works are for sale.  Some are purchased that very night, and for not inconsiderable sums.  Would I, could I, buy any of these paintings?  Not at those prices.  I couldn't because I'd rather spend the money on a new car, or buy more paints and a new easel.  You see, the art that interests me most is my own.  I like to see how others do things, but I am more interested in learning how to paint myself.

I think writers are like that, too.  I've known published poets who never read a line of any other poet's, none of whose works would be published if government and foundations did not subsidize their publication.  I'm okay with that.

Most people who enjoy literature have a hidden or not so hidden desire to write themselves.  Almost everyone has a novel  in a drawer somewhere or in the attic.  Not me.  I sincerely do not want to write anything, unless you count this blog.  What I want to do is read.  And what I want to read is books.

I've already mentioned that I don't want a Kindle.  I like books.  If it looks good to me, I will read any book with joy.  Unless it is moldy, which sets off my asthma.  Nice-looking books on good paper with beautiful bindings interest me, but so do paperbacks from the 1940s found in dusty book stores or at the Good Will. Library books.   I know I like certain authors, but I love discovering new ones.  I like reading about things I am ignorant about and learning new stuff, if well presented..

I don't really know what I want to read until I see it.  So I will continue to prowl through Barnes & Noble and look through piles of yesterday's best sellers at garage sales.  Some of my finds will be duds, of course, but I've discovered a lot of good reading and have hopes of finding more.

Rich People's Leftism...

vs.  Poor People's Leftism.

Thanks to the Fourth Checkraise--a very interesting blog in its own right--for the link.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Designer logos are over

They're so twentieth century.

The idea of wearing clothes with brand names or words on them is a creation of the last half-century, and a distinctly odd, unattractive one. You read words; you don’t wear them.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A horrible mistake

My dear aunt, who died recently, was buried in the wrong grave. She owned four plots. My uncle, her husband, was in one of them, and she was supposed to be buried next to him, or jointly with him, so to speak, under the same tombstone. Instead, she was buried in one of the two other plots.

The whole thing gives me the creeps. It's almost funny, but it was horrible for her immediate family. They had an argument with the synagogue, which owns the cemetery, and did not want to move her because it would cost money--a backhoe would be needed, etc.

None of our family belongs to this synagogue any more, because they have taken a turn toward excessive piety, building a wall between the men and the women, among other things. Everyone in the family had joined other synagogues or left town, but my aunt kept up her membership, although she never went there, because she wanted to be buried next to her husband.

It reminds me of the old joke: three Jews are marooned on a desert island. When rescuers happen to discover them, they have built four synagogues. Why four synagogues? Well, the first was the one Abe belonged to; the second was the one Ben belonged to, and the third was the one Chaim attended. But what about the fourth? Well, that was the one nobody belonged to.

So for thirty years my aunt paid dues to the synagogue nobody belonged to, just so she could be buried next to her husband. And they blew it!

After much heart-rending, shrieking, and agony, she was moved. Her daughter felt that this had to be done so she would be at peace. Maybe she is.

As for me, I think that if I were recently deceased I wouldn't be worried about my burial place. Either I would have moved on to other things, or I would be angry and indignant at being forced to leave this world, where there is so much to love and enjoy.