Saturday, September 29, 2001

Talk about having up-to-the-minute merchandise! There are already Osama bin Laden piƱatas available down in the Valley, according to the all-night, all-Texas news chanel, which shows a photo on its site.

Friday, September 28, 2001

Having one hundred yard-waste bags makes a person feel wealthy.

Thursday, September 27, 2001

The Studebakers were in the studio with Sammy on KVET without Bob this morning: radio at its best. There was much a capella singing, with Sammy sitting in on the kazoo and at times being broadcast in his recorded guise of Edward J. LaFong. A highlight was a Gene Autry/Roy Rogers-type campfire song.

Wednesday, September 26, 2001

If it weren't for the NYT, New York, the New Yorker, and the Village Voice, I wouldn't feel as though I had any idea about what's really going on. Fascinating first-hand accounts are being posted as TANs on the strangest Usenet forums as well. Nothing's being printed in local papers around the nation, it seems; there's not really much on public radio; and people who live in the City and watch the networks say that they're really astonished by what the nation at large is not being told. Nobody fails to pick up and read documents from the snowfall of them. The Economist sheds light on this horror as viewed by the rest of the world. The Manchester Guardian with Le Monde has not yet arrived. Who would have thought of jalapeno cornbread as a comfort food? Turns out that it's very consoling. I think I'll make some more tomorrow. Seeing morning glories and moonflowers again, now that the weather has at last turned, is also consoling.

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

The September 11 Fortune magazine has the best cover on the Trade Center, plus three great articles: a splendid piece of journalism on Becton-Dickinson and new legislation on making needles safer and resulting manufacturing processes; a bit on going back to work at the same doughnut shop where the author was employed during her high-school years and finding that blue-collar men still give the highest tips, with tree surgeons still the best of those; and a small item on the outfit that's responsible for most of the contents in Chinese fortune cookies.

Monday, September 24, 2001

Last night was Miss Venezuela, with Miss Carabobo a sentimental favorite as always, just for the name. The current Times Literary Supplement cover features Beryl Bainbridge's new novel, set in the Thrale-Burney-Dr. Johnson circle. Just as I'm keeping this log not so much as to be candid about what's really on my mind on any given day but to serve as an allusive referent to what was going on at the time. I find that old lists of books read serve the same purpose, bringing to mind exactly where I was and what was going on at the time I was reading the item in question (e.g., Boswell's Life Johnson, the journals and novels of Fanny Burney (Madame D'Arblay), and Hester Thrale Piozzi's recollections.

Sunday, September 23, 2001

Miss America last night--thank goodness that the first runner-up was not the winner. In his young days, James Cagney already displayed attributes of stardom, and what a dancer! All this is revealed in Something to Sing About, an effort from 1937.

Saturday, September 22, 2001

The NYT had a piece discussing The Secret Agent (Conrad) and The Princess Casamassima (James), which have both been very much on my mind lately for obvious reasons. It is surprising that both of them are so little read. The Conrad is not long at all, and the James is one of the few of his productions that has very strong narrative propulsion. The full text of The Secret Agent is widely available in virtual form, but no Princess test is to be found. Once read, neither of these is ever forgotten.

Friday, September 21, 2001

As foreign embassies and consulates report missing people, the supposed death toll rises. It's fortunate that terror struck as early as it did; the true NYC rush hour is really a bit later, especially on what was the first day of school for so many children. There will be more missing added to the list, it's safe to predict, because the City has offered shelter to so many lonely people totally estranged from their families elsewhere. Some of these families will eventually seek out their missing, but there will always be the true solitaries. The real number of lives lost will probably never been known. How welcome are signs of waning summer (lycoris right now, and renewed blooms from the morning glories as well as the cypress vine now attracting the hummingbirds, with thunbergia yet to arrive) and the spring to come (muscari).

Thursday, September 20, 2001

If I never hear or see the words "listserv," "unsubscribe," or the like again, it'll be too soon for me. Grade B movies do have their place, especially when they feature Fred Astaire: Second Chorus. This little item features Paulette Goddard doing a mean jitterbug with Himself, plus a good comic turn with Fred masquerading as a Russian and doing the trepak in a White Russian nightclub. Speeches are better absorbed by reading them, I always think, unless the orator is big on ad lib and raw emotion.

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

It'll be interesting to see whether using fertilizer put out at the curb for pickup will have any adverse affects. There's no telling how old it is, though the bag was sealed, it is pelletized, and it's the conventionsl 10-5-15 with 2% iron, packaged for some outfit called something like "Austin Nurserymen and Plantsmen Association" by some outfit called something like Nelson somewhere in Texas. Can't get more vague than that. No mention of GWB's press person issuing an apology for the use of the word "crusade" or the objections raised against it. What tin ears some people have! Why not just talk about "holy war" or "jihad"?

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Twelve yard-waste bags having been filled as part of plumber aftermath, now beings work on picking up stones and bits up caliche brought to the surface as part of the trench work. It's better to dig, rake, lop, and tote than it is to think about Bagdad on the Hudson and all the waste.

Monday, September 17, 2001

Royal Wedding, from 1951, was particularly good for costumes. Jane Powell was new to me, since most of the 1950s is a movie blank. Good, harmless diversion, with all music (Burton Lane and Alan Lerner) forgettable entirely with two exceptions. Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me With Apples, courtesy of the library, is remarkably candid; it would appear that mushrooms and shrimp must be her two favorite foods.

Sunday, September 16, 2001

Ann Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups is just another variation on the rest of her product: mildly eccentric but harmless people and lots of whimsy. This is, again, courtesy of the library; one would hate to have paid real money for it.

Saturday, September 15, 2001

Now that the weather's back to being sultry, it's time to invest in mass quantities of Manhatten paletas again. Lime's my very most favorite flavor, all natural, including in color, and extremely tart, as it should be. Others love coconut, mango, watermelon, strawberry, or another flavor, all natural and concentrated. Hearing the word "Manhattan" this week so much may have helped to foster this craving. The on-line refresher course in pure HTML coding really helps with troubleshooting and is a good source of distraction as this terrible tragedy in one of the cities of my heart continues to unfold.

Friday, September 14, 2001

Books as diversion and escape really do work--case in point: Le Mariage, a literate and intelligent comedy of manners. Studying also helps. There's certainly no end to the ramifications of Photoshop.

Thursday, September 13, 2001

After the skies were opened by the FAA, a helicopter was to be heard really low and in about an hour, another; but the news reports that there was confusion about whether or not general aviation was permitted up and that craft have been forced to land by military planes in some parts of the country. The site now reports that cargo ops are permitted, so there'll be no sleep tonight. At last GWB will show his face in NYC. Laura Bush was not bold enough to confirm a threat against the White House, GWB, or Air Force One, a sort of tribute to her candor or veracity, one would guess. Amtrak is now up and reports that it's been adding service and also delivering relief supplies but that its site has been overwhelmed at times. Of the media coverage, Univision finds Spanish-speakers everywhere and seems to have visuals and interviews that the U.S. networks do not. Last night there was a lengthy interview with some former U.S. secretary of energy who, though evidently Anglo to judge by name and appearance, was fluent in Spanish.

Wednesday, September 12, 2001

The skies are so peaceful, with not even a traffic-reporting plane buzzing low, let alone, apparently, the medical helicopters. Why is no one reporting on Amtrak or Greyhound? The Port Authority Building remains closed, but what's happening to bus travel in other parts of the country? The Amtrak web site is inaccessible.

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

The firefighters go into the building while others are running out of it: q.e.p.d. Giuliani was right out in the middle of it all; speculation is that GWB is high-tailing it for Fort Hood.

Monday, September 10, 2001

Fortune magazine pictures one of the soon-to-be-available (supposedly) disposable cell phones--this one to have a part refillable with prepaid time; it's planned for it to be available this fall at convenience stores, along with time refills, though no contracts with companies providing airtime have yet been negotiated.

Friday, September 07, 2001

Our long plumbing nightmare is over, for the time being at least. The back yard looks like a war zone and much shrub butchery has occurred. The waxleaf ligustrum (Japanese privet) is no more, and I saw some masterful chainsaw work and added a few new words to the Spanish-vocabulary bank.

Thursday, September 06, 2001

Sometime during the night a person or persons unknown went home with a lot of the flowers in our front yard. "Dust Pan Blues" was recorded by Gene Autry sometime between 1928 and 1931 or so. I've never heard a recorded version, only sung by real, live human beings.

Wednesday, September 05, 2001

Book fodder: Empire Falls marks a distinct decline for Richard Russo; plus All the Way to Heaven, The Best Thing I Ever Tasted (obviously warmed-over magazine pieces but quite funny on such subjects as convenience foods, spage-age foods like Space Food Sticks, and Peg Bracken's I Hate to Cook Book; Without Reservations (mild travel but a very handsomely designed book, making liberal use of postage stamps as a design element), Headlong (Michael Frayn's U.K. best-seller that went nowhere here, and for good reason). Copacabana is grade D--who was Andy Russell?

Tuesday, September 04, 2001

Pitfall (Dick Powell's hat was very a la mode and Raymond Burr was cheesy and sinister), and Bring It On (really very entertaining, though Kirsten Dunst was not at her best). There are two kinds of people: those who know what the garbage day is and those who don't. The day after a major holiday it's certainly easy to tell them apart.

Monday, September 03, 2001

Marx Brothers, or Groucho at least, are entertaining in At the Circus. Entertaining is not exactly the word to use in conjunction with Felicia's Journey. What a great match between Bob Hoskins and the actor playing his juvenile self! Thanks to the 50-mile-an-hour wind, goodbye to our favorite rose of sharon, white with a dark-red center.