¶ In the Decameron, VII, iv, Boccaccio once again strikes what seems to be “the moral of the story.” After the wife makes a fool out of her jealous husband, he has to win her back by promising to trust her in a different key, as it were. (more…)
Archive for March, 2008
¶ Tierce: In the paper today, two stories about the the kind of mundane change that, without paying a lot of attention, we get used to in the blink of an eye. Both, not coincidentally, forecast emptier shelves at home. Susan Dominus on The Kindle (“Snoopers on Subway, Beware Digital Books“) and David Carr on the download (“We Want It, and Waiting Is No Option “)
Oh, so cute. For some reason, my Web server balks at the umlaut in the title of this week’s movie, Die Fälscher. I think it’s the server. The Web log took it in stride.
¶ Matins: I’m thinking of Die Fälscher for this morning. Writing the movie up may be the last bit of sustained writing that I do for a short spell. And no, I’m not taking a vacation. Rather the reverse.
¶ Nones: One of these days, businessmen are going to have to learn to regard “redundancy” as a form of insurance — a legitimate and necessary cost of doing business. This story about a shortage of favorite Passover treats, “It’s ‘Hide the Matzo’ for Real: Tam Tams Are Scarce,” may be cute, but it’s also an object lesson.
¶ Lauds: Kathleen and I were to check in, I thought, at about seven. By the time we actually connected, at about eight, I’d been through a full cycle of dread and despair. It turned out that Kathleen thought that we would talk when she got back from a cocktail party. The moment I heard her voice, of course, I forgot my worries.
¶ Tierce: Gail Collins predicts that Barack will lose interest in the fight before Hillary does: “I say her strategic desire to keep fighting trumps his strategic desire to put the lid on it.” Read her hilarious Op-Ed piece, in which “The Uncle Al Show” has nothing to do with a former vice-president.
¶ Nones: Édouard visits Foxwoods in the universal language of photography, so you can see the nightmare for what it is. Scroll down a bit, through the sylvan pictures, until you find yourself asking, “What the hell is that?” It’s a casino, that’s what. In the middle of a forest. Una selva not nearly oscura enough.
Reading the rest of Fitt III of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I see that Fitt IV (the conclusion of the poem) is only seventeen pages long, if you ignore the facing original; so I shall read all of on Monday. On the following Monday, I’ll dip into James Merrill.
¶ Tierce: Whether it’s because I watched the 1994 BBC adaptation of Middlemarch last weekend, or because I just finished one of the more acutely unromantic chapters of The Red and the Black, the tortured account of a school trustees’ meeting at Outer Life, this morning, made me laugh as only the finest English social comedy can.
¶ Nones: My friend Yvonne has just tipped me off to an interesting site that she describes as “a Scottish lady’s ‘domestic blog’,” Cornflower. Book talk seems to be the principal interest here — bravo! — but the lady (a sometime lawyer) is also a knitter, and she has just knitted a pair of socks in the Blue Willow Pattern. Is this another message from the cosmos — re-read The Egoist, now! — or what?
As you can tell from the accompanying photo, I’m reading The Aeneid in Robert Fagles’s new rendering(Viking, 2006). But I find that, once I’m tripped into the Loeb Classic text of the original by something or other in the rendering that makes me wonder how Virgil put it, I tend to stay with H R Fairclough’s facing translation (in prose), first published in 1918. This is curious, because all previous attempts to get through the epic by relying on the Loeb edition alone have failed. (more…)
¶ Prime: I was so busy over the weekend that I still haven’t read the paper. I had to come across a link to this at kottke.org. In the Times, the article is entitled “A Guide to the French. Handle With Care.” My own title: When Seven out of Eight of the Following Propositions Hold True Here, New York Will Finally Be More Civilized Than Anglophone.”
¶ Sext: Father Tony agonizes over apostrophes. Is the plural of “CD” CD’s or CDs? I’m resolutely for the latter, but it makes my friend uncomfortable. He has found a link to “the rule,” which is correct so far as it goes.
¶ Nones: The Hong Kong of the Hudson? You’re joking! This is Gotham City, surely! Be sure to click through Gothamist to the Big Apple list of no fewer than ninety-eight nicknames for Old Nieuw Amsterdam. What’s this? ”The Frog and Toe“?
¶ Vespers: The reviews appeared side-by-side in the Arts section of yesterday’s Times; how curious it was to have been to both evenings of chamber music. To give some idea of how different they were, in their wonderful ways, I’ve written them up together.
Well, at least it’s still morning. Unlike yesterday…
Having written everything up, I scour my desk for stray bookmarks. I get so involved copying out passages &c that I too often close books without marking my place. Which is no great problem, as, thanks to this exercise, I always know where to pick up the next day; but it is very irritating to come back to the desk, having replaced the books in their pile in the bedroom, to find it littered with bookmarks. (more…)
“Afternoon Read” would be more like it, today — although I did read almost everything before noon. (more…)
Kathleen’s Aunt Marcia peered into my kitchen a few years ago and said to me, “I don’t know how you cook all that in here.” My father-in-law still says the same thing.
Today, I said it myself. We had Julia Child’s mushroom soup; a Hollandaise course (salmon soufflé with steamed asparagus); roast leg of lamb, with Mrs Crumb’s “mint jelly” and a rice dish that might have been a risotto but, by the time I served it, was more of a soubise; and chocolatey desserts from Greenberg’s.
(Damn! I forgot to divvy up the chocolate chip cookies! )
I tried to defend my having gone to see College Road Trip — Fossil Darling called it (my having gone) a “disgrace” — by arguing that I have to compensate for “these snobby things” that “I have.” Megan almost burped. “‘These snobby things’? You make it sound as though they could be contained!”
We did have a lovely afternoon, and I am the luckiest father of the bride in the world. That’s to say that Megan is very lucky — at least as lucky as I was when I met Kathleen.
Did I ever tell you about the time I saw Deborah Kerr play Candida, in the West End? That was in 1977; you do the math. If she were not already an independently-established entertainer, Raven-Symoné would not be allowed to flaunt her full figure alongside her character’s genuinely undernourished sidekicks, played by Brenda Song and Margo Harshman, in College Road Trip. She would certainly not be the star of this movie. She might not even be in it.
¶ Tierce: Something completely different: all three Times editorials are sober must-reads: “Socialized Compensation” (CEO remuneration — say no more), “Turkey’s Democracy on Trial” (perhaps the most interesting cultural argument going on in the world today), and “Saving a National Treasure,” (the countenanced vandalization of the Palisades).
¶ Sext: No sooner do I finish slogging my way through Michael Banks’s semi-moronic Blogging Heroes (in the Morning Read) than the Times comes along with a half-page summary, “So You Want to Be a Blogging Star?”
A few weeks ago, Édouard paid a visit to the Poussin and Nature show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where he took a very good look at the picture from which I have extracted a detail, above, Poussin’s Landscape with the Ashes of Phocion. Who, Édouard asked, is that man in over on the right, holding on to a tree?
Pourquoi a-t-il une telle tête de fou ou de psychosé ? On ne sait pas.
In the current issue of Bookforum, Paris Review managing editor Radhika Jones interviews writer and editor Daniel Menaker in his Upper West Side apartment, where she makes the following observation about his library.
The fiction that remains—a largely canonical selection—is shelved alphabetically by author or subject, from Aubrey’s Brief Lives to Zola: A Life.
I am sure that this is a slip, that Ms Jones meant to say “literature,” not “fiction.” But still!