Archive for April, 2008

Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008


¶ Matins: On her train ride to Albany, Kathleen missed Sing-Sing. I told her to keep her eyes peeled, but the windows were so dirty that she was glad that she hadn’t brought a camera.

¶ Tierce: RACE STILL A PROBLEM IN US, according to American Presidential Campaign. Barack Obama dissociates himself from Rev Jeremiah Wright. (The New York Times, Front Page.)

¶ Vespers: Alone for dinner tonight, I’m tempted to make a peanut butter and bacon sandwich. Here’s a recipe, in case anyone should need such a thing.

¶ Compline: If I’ve got an excuse for not writing (much less posting) this week’s Book Review review until the tail end of Wednesday, I don’t know what it is.


Friday Movies: Roman de Gare

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008


Last Friday, I had about the best excuse going for not seeing a movie in the morning. Scroll down if you doubt me.

Here’s the movie that I might have seen if I’d had no better plans. It’s hard to say: the calculus for choosing a film on Friday is not, as you might expect, movie-based. Location has a lot to do with selection, with my desire to leave the neighborhood as the leading factor.

In case you’re too harried/hurried to click through, let me say that Roman de Gare seemed a lot more like the French movies of old than other recent offerings. It was, in short, more French — if I may risk coming off rather like Stendhal’s Prince Korasoff, French to his fingertips, but in the style of fifty years ago.

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008


¶ Matins: Kathleen is off to Albany this evening, for an overnight trip. Shame about the awful weather; if it were nice, she could pretend that she was in North By Northwest. As, er, one of the extras — not Eva Marie Saint.

¶ Tierce: Today’s Metro Section (The New York Times’s regional coverage) is full of complicated stories: it’s hard to decide, not so much right from wrong, as who ought to prevail.

¶ Sext: The delightfully inimitable George Snyder writes a bit about the people in one of my very favorite pictures, which is mine, all mine — or, at least, in the neighborhood.

¶ Vespers: God, I’m complicated. Do I go to the movies tonight, and, if so, where; but, if I go tomorrow, then to which one? And what about Friday? Yikes! But here’s the deal: Roman de Gare tomorrow, at the Angelika. Then She Found Me on Friday morning, at the Sunshine.


Tuesday Morning Read

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008


If I’m tardy today — too tardy to sip at Merrill — it’s because I wound up reading Boccaccio’s story of Rinieri the scholar aloud to Kathleen. Sleeping in and rousing late, she was nursing a cup of Kenya when I sat down to the Morning Read, and it seemed churlish not to read aloud, which entertained her so much that she didn’t start packing for Albany until long after she ought to have been out of the house. (more…)

Daily Office: Monday

Monday, April 28th, 2008


¶ Matins: This afternoon, I’ll be spending tea-time at Ruptured and Crippled: it’s time for an infusion of Remicade.

¶ Tierce: A very strong story, by Andrea Elliott in the Times, about the demonization of Debbie Almontaser, founder of the Khalil Gibran school in Brooklyn.

¶ Nones: Even without the April showers, we’ve got plenty of flowers. But we’ve got plenty of April showers, too — today, anyway.


Monday Morning Read

Monday, April 28th, 2008


A tad late today, perhaps. I lavished the morning on bits and pieces of household paperwork.  

¶ In the Decameron, VIII, vi, we have another Calandrino story. You remember the “simpleminded” painter, who thought he’d become invisible? He’s back, and so are his friends, who set him up to fail one of those religious oath tests that the medievals were so fond of. The whole tale has a good-ole-boy, Lone-Star quality that makes me wonder if “Tuscan” and “Texan” derive from the same root. Not. (more…)

Weekend Note: After the Wedding

Sunday, April 27th, 2008


Looking out the window yesterday morning, we couldn’t believe our luck — Megan’s luck and Ryan’s luck, particularly, of course, but really everybody’s luck. The sky lowered grey and bleak, taking us from early May to late March. Today is rather worse. If the wedding had  been a day later — or the weather a day earlier!

But the bad weather, in its way, is just as well, since my pleasure receptors are shot. I couldn’t be happier that yesterday was my day to tidy up the apartment: little or no thought required. Meanwhile, recollections of the wedding steep. (more…)

Daily Office: Friday(Held Over)

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Mr & Mrs Ryan O’Neill

¶ Matins: It’s a little late for research, but anyone who wants to follow along with this morning’s festive ceremony can read the manual. If you think I’m going to look at it, you’re crazy. I’d flip out over my own misinterpretation of a (to me) unexpected term, and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the wedding breakfast.

¶ Vespers: What a lovely day! From breakfast at ten — meeting Ryan’s delightful parents was nicer than anything on Balthazar’s boffo menu — to getting married at, gee, I don’t know, about one in the afternoon? And then walking down Broadway on the most radiant spring afternoon and having a nice long lunch under umbrellas overlooking New York Harbor (Statue of Liberty included). Home just before seven!

Mr & Mrs Ryan O’Neill….


FridayMorning Read

Friday, April 25th, 2008


A bit of cheating. I haven’t been reading this morning. I haven’t even been at home. My attempt to launch a truncated Morning Read yesterday came to nothing; having done the reading, I took a nap, and when I woke up there were too many pre-wedding matters to attend to to write anything up.

No Merrill and no Aubrey today. But I did finish the third quarter of the Decameron, and Book X of the Aeneid. Although I’ll be very proud of myself when I finish with Boccaccio (for the time being), I could go on reading his saucy tales forever. Virgil’s epic, on the contrary, can’t be done with soon enough. And although I’ll be glad to have done with the adventures, shambolically related, of Julien Sorel, I’ve ordered a copy of La chartreuse de Parme from Amazon in France. I bought my copy of Le rouge et le noir, which I’m finally reading for the first time in 2008, in 1973, but if I haven’t started with the other big Stendhal book within a fifth of that interval, I’ll give it the heave-ho. (more…)

Daily Office: Thursday

Thursday, April 24th, 2008


¶ Matins: When Kathleen heard what I wrote for Compline last night, she paid me the highest compliment by asking to listen to Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music.

¶ Tierce: A little story on the Times’s Web site about losses at Motorola made me wonder what could have gone wrong at the company that gave us the RAZR phone. A little googling turned up this entry at Engadget, in which a former employee, who worked for the late Chief Marketing Officer, Geoffrey Frost (did they really work him to death?), gives an inside view.

¶ Compline: Good news! Everything fits. My glen plaid suit and my fancy new shirt, which was only half as costly as the suit. I was a bit nervous about the shirt; maybe I wouldn’t be able to close the top button. I decided not to wait until tomorrow to find out. I shall sleep better as a result.


Daily Office: Wednesday

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008


¶ Matins: At lunch yesterday, Édouard told me that, while he used to read the Book Review religiously, he never looks at it now, because it’s so clearly the inside job of a self-interested coterie. If it were really that precious, it would be far more interesting. In this whirlwind week, I have to ask myself why I read the Book Review, and the answer is clear. I wouldn’t read it at all, if it weren’t for this weekly feature of mine.

¶ Tierce: Good news on the goofball front: the late Virgilio Cintron’s buddies won’t be going to jail for wheeling his corpse to a Pay-O-Matic in order to cash his Social Security check.

¶ Sext: In today’s Morning Read, I came across the very pithy expression of a truth that I learned to the limit in the last presidential election: “There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into.”

¶ Vespers: A treat for anyone who bothers to click through.

¶ Compline: We had theatre tickets for this evening, but I was able to make a last-minute change, freeing the evening for — in a word — stargazing. (more…)

Wednesday Morning Read

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008


It has been difficult to focus the Morning Read books this week, because the sunny zephyrs of spring — bearing bird songs that I thought I’d only heard in the country — have lit up the imminent prospect of my daughter’s marriage, which would have been something of a happy distraction in any case but which, thanks to the weather, is an overpowering delight. The strain makes the two most congenial books on the list stand out in relief, and they are the oldest and the newest, Boccaccio and James. (more…)

Nano Notes: "You Take Me Up"

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008


It took a while, but I finally loaded a selection of pop favorites onto a Nano. It’s my first Nano, the one in the picture, actually — the one called “RJK Silver Nano” (these things have names whether you want them to or not, so they might as well have names that you want).  Since I acquired it, it has held every kind of music imaginable, at one time or another (except country; we don’t do country), but now it is my Silver Nano indeed, stocked with music to suit every mood while I’m out and about. The operas of the moment are Salome and Elektra; counterpoising their “decadence” is the St John Passion of JS Bach. There’s a loose collection of classics that I’ve copied from CDs onto iTunes but not transferred to any of the other Nanos yet. And then there’s pop.

What’s my idea of pop, you ask? I’m not sure that I ought to tell you. How about Thompson Twins’ “You Take Me Up”? I listened to that a couple of times in a row. Or Giorgio Moroder’s E=mc2? The most amazing ear candy ever. It was such a beautiful day! And I had such a great time out there in the sunshine with all the other folks going about their business.

I bopped into my mens’ clothing store near Rockefeller Center, not exactly on an impulse but nearly, and bought a suit to wear to Megan’s wedding on Friday. (It will be ready on Thursday afternoon. Imagine!) I have not bought a suit in well over twenty years, and I must have given away the last of them more than fifteen years ago. But now I have a new suit. Notwithstanding the fact that it has to cover All Of Me, it’s dreamy. A pearl-grey glen plaid three-button two-piece, with very black checks and faint stripes of pink. To go with it, I bought one of the shirts that the salesman recommended, pink with dark pink stripes. And a jet-black tie dotted with tiny pink eggs. The shirt was, all inadvertently, my first Turnbull & Asser. I’d have looked at the price tag if I hadn’t been paddling in a sunny bay of music sweet. I had those happy feet!

Hell, this Friday’s only going to happen once.

If Tom Meglioranza had only recorded Marc Blitzstein’s “The New Suit,” I’d have listened to that all the way home. Mine, too, has a zipper fly.

Daily Office: Tuesday

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008


¶ Matins: Friday’s plans have firmed up: we’re to be at Balthazar at ten. (Yes, Fossil Darling, that means you. I didn’t want to wake you up with the news.) Then we’ll troop down Centre Street to the Municipal Building and get hitched, those of us what aren’t. (I hereby promise: the next time Megan refers to our destination as “City Hall,” I won’t correct her.)

¶ Prime: My reward for going through all the mail this afternoon was discovering that I’m two weeks late to ensure that, when I renew our Orpheus subscriptions, we’ll get the same seats. I almost broke down and wept. First thing tomorrow!

¶ Tierce: I was going to bore you to death with remarks about Bob Herbert’s column in th Times (Dept of Idiocracy), but LXIV sent me a very entertaining link.

¶ Compline: The server that stores this site was down for a few hours this afternoon. When I was assured that The Daily Blague was “intact,” I shuddered to think of my extremely underdeveloped backup procedures.

Regular readers may want to make a note of Portico in their browsers’ “favorites” folders, because Portico runs from an entirely different server. If the outage had lasted much longer, I’d have posted a message at Portico. These things happen from time to time, and it’s when they do that the virtues of redundancy shine. (more…)

Daily Office: Monday

Monday, April 21st, 2008


¶ Matins: What a weekend! I was about to say that it left me in need of a rest cure, but then I did a little research.

¶ Tierce: How sweet it is: Robert Crandall, the daimon of American Airlines during the glory days of deregulation, declares that only government intervention can save the airlines.

¶ Sext: The lost art of diagramming sentences: Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog, at Portico.

¶ Vespers: Now that the Wi-Fi is working fairly reliably in the living room, I’m running the household from the secretary desk and staying on top of the paperwork.


Monday Morning Read

Monday, April 21st, 2008


¶ In the Decameron, VIII, iii, a story funny enough to film, perhaps as a silent movie. Duped by his chums, Calandrino thinks that he has discovered stones of invisibility-granting heliotrope. He’s lovably loopy until he gets home, where he blames his he thinks sudden visibility on his wife and beats her up. It would be amusing to know the facts behind this anecdote. Calandrino, as the painter Nozzo di Perino was nicknamed, appears in three forthcoming tales as well. Nozzo’s simple-mindedness is presented as a kind of dim egoism. (more…)

Friday Movies: Hors de Prix

Sunday, April 20th, 2008


Surely one of the loveliest pictures of the year — and so quietly saturated with luxe that it took me eight or ten hours to realize that I was not taking the waters at a grand resort.

¶ Hors de Prix (Priceless) , at Portico.

Kathleen's Happy Birthday

Saturday, April 19th, 2008

At La Grenouille, for Kathleen’s 55th.

We were very extravagant. A bottle of Gevry-Chambertin followed by a bottle of Margaux. Dover sole for Kathleen, the filet mignon special for me. The chocolate soufflé for Kathleen; pour moi, le pistache. They actually asked Kathleen where we’d been. If they’d asked me, I’d have had my answer ready: on était basquais. But Kathleen simply told them how her mother went there for lunch, and my mother went there for lunch, and how good everything was.

And it was good.

Daily Office: Friday

Friday, April 18th, 2008


¶ Matins: Oops!

¶ Tierce: We haven’t been very clear on the synagogue front. When I took the picture, above, I was under the impression that Benedict XVI would be visiting the Central Synagogue, on Lexington Avenue in Midtown. Then, rather less pardonably, I confused the Park East Synagogue (née Congregation Zichron Ephraim), on 67th Street (between Lex and Third), with the Park Avenue Synagogue (Congregation Agudat Yesharim), on 87th Street near Madison Avenue.

¶ Vespers: How time flies, when you’re standing on the roof waiting for the Pope to drive by. It’s really not an event for the camera, even if you’re standing up close. As remote as we are from the endless processions of the Middle Ages, even the very streamlined pomp of the modern motorcade imposes a certain intimacy upon onlookers.


The Pope Comes to Yorkville

Friday, April 18th, 2008


What a fleet of black, black cars swept down 87th Street this afternoon!

It’s a lovely day to be outside — really more like May or June than April — and while I can’t say that there were throngs of onlookers, there was enough of a crowd to make a big noise when the Papal stretch (not the Popemobile) drove by.


His Holiness had arrived at St Joseph’s by this point. First Avenue (a stretch of which can be seen between the crosswalks) was blocked for fifteen minutes or so, on a Friday afternoon. What a perishing jam that must have created.

I thought of that Italian movie, where Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni spend the afternoon on a Roman rooftop during some big event during the Mussolini period. I, however, was for all but five minutes alone on our vast roof. Tenants who could have come up for a spacious, big-sky kind of experience (not to mention a better view of the goings-on) craned over their balcony railings for a passing glimpse. It’s true that the management does not encourage people to go up on the roof. But there’s a crowd every Fourth of July.

Una giornata particolare.  

Ah, more crying and screaming and shouting. The Pope must be on his way to wherever he’s spending the evening. The official part of the day is over.