Sunday, March 31, 2002

Moulin Rouge was made for the big screen; it's a shame we didn't catch it there, particularly for the choreography. Parts of it recalled the wacky Hong Kong movie that was a wacky and over-the-top Phantom of the Opera derivation complete with Cantonese pop songs. Jim Broadbent was the true star. Thanks to Moulin Rouge, we now have another song that refuses to leave the mental jukebox and that isn't one you want to be caught singing in an elevator where there are people to hear you: Nat Cole's version of Nature Boy. The Wash was fun, and Snoop Dogg was funny. .

Friday, March 29, 2002

During this terrible time of dread and and turmoil, especially dread of hearing the telephone ring, insomnia has run rampant. Before the worst of all this began, "I Capture the Castle" had been perfect light reading, and very good for reading aloud, especially the incident of the bearskin coat. Either the Economist or something else mildly serious and mildly boring seemed to be better reading for utilitarian purposes and also less frivolous in the circumstances. Hating unfinished books, though, I took it up again and polished it off in no time. It rather tapers off toward the end. Too bad that I bet CCH (a) has read it, and (b) didn't enjoy it the first time around, particularly those last few chapters. It's so difficult to find entertaining books of the right sort for people who have read "everything." Most of the other writings of Dodie Smith appear to be out of print, with the exception of The 101 Dalmations and its sequel.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Every spare minute lately has been devoted to what passes for activity indoors--cleaning, in other words. I thought I had disposed of all three, or even four, CueCat items. I had received one from Wired, one from Forbes, maybe one from PC Magazine, and I forget where else. I'm sorry I disposed of any, because when I found the one I looked at the info with it and realized it's just a bar-code scanner--the software was probably just to send info a la DoubleClick and its brethren. I think I can remember reading about using it to scan ISBNs to help build a database or catalogue of books. In fact, the CueCat is a bit baulky as a scanner, but no more so than any other (for instance, the system used by the Austin Public Library). When I get a minute, I'm going to look at stupid Access or even see whether there's a freeware or shareware probram out there. The trouble is, most of our books date from well before the general use of ISBNs, with plenty being products of the nineteenth century. It's well past time to get out that ladder and antistatic cloth and dust off the old double-shelved books anyhow.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Today's NYT had a wonderful feature on bamboo scaffolding. It's now been outlawed on the mainland but is still in use in Hong Kong, going sixty and seventy stories high. How many movie scenes have shown them?

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Those Tastybite Jodphur lentils are really very good, especially doctored up with a squeeze of lemon juice, some diced tomatoes, and a sprig or two of cilantro, with some rice on the side and wheat tortillas standing in for naan.

Monday, March 25, 2002

Even though it makes me feel better to pare down as much as possible, following Eva's model--acquire nothing without disposing of an equivalent, in velue and volume displaced--there remain objects of covetousness. I've been resisting acquisition of type faces. Somehow my old Optima has vanished itself. Even though I very much dislike replacing anything, Optima may have to be acquired again. There's nothing quite like it. It goes in and out of vogue and some think it's old hat, but I think there's no more elegant sans serif out there, even now.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

it's funny how some people are difficult to recognize out of context; i.e., without their usual accompanying dogs.

Saturday, March 23, 2002

What a relief to actually indulge in some eintertainment. Monsoon Wedding drew a very good crowd at the Westgate down south. Exhibitors are missing a bet not to send a morsel our way once in a while. The show was dense and entertaining and something that should definitely be seen on the big screen. The audience laughed a great deal. At the end, thinking the movie was over, the greatest part of the audience headed for the door, but all lingered to see the additional bits interspersed among the credits. We scored a lot of asparagus at the South Austin Farmers' Market. Before the movie we had time to try out the old Richard Jones BBQ walk-up window (now calling itself RJ Pitt's or something along those lines. It all felt very Austin-like and homey. My brisket and sausage both were good, though of course not as good as at the old Pit downtown by the Back Forty. The woman at the walk-up window was old-style Austin. I really couldn't stomach the din and confusion at Central Market after these past couple of weeks that we've had, so while one braved it, I headed for Borders. I felt guilty to buy there and not at Book People, but came out with a replacement copy of "La guerra del fin del mundo" (Vargas Llosa)--by the way, the link is to the edition that I bought. I don't like it as well as the one not returned. All apart from the difference in prices, this one has slick, offset pages, and the old one was letterpress and had a better typeface and paper that was much more pleasant to the touch. It would be interesting to see the movie made from this; it certainly could not have encompassed all of the novel. I also came away with a copy of Russell Banks's Trailerpark stories, figuring it'll go out of print again and the library will deaccession it and I won't be able to read the ice-fishing story any more without a copy of my own....I was wrong, the fishing story is among those collected in Angel on the Roof. Nevertheless, I prefer to own them all.

Friday, March 22, 2002

Business Week unbelievable subscription foul-up. I'll have to write a letter. My letters get results. Pretty soon we'll be living pretty much for free if people keep messing up this way. Yes; as soon as all this crisis-type atmosphere dissipates a bit, Mr. McGraw will be hearing from yours truly. It was fun to hear from someone in Austin in connection with Austin del sur. Lately all the mail has been coming from out of town and even from out of the country. This time it was a rep from the Travis County Sheriff's mounted posse hoping to find a parade to ride in for the fourth of July.

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Every morning we find "treasures" left by traffic parking or passing by. This morning's haul included a 20-dollar bottle of tequila, nearly full, and a list of referrals to rehab centers.

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Now that I've heard of Avram Davidson, I'll keep hearing of him. It was so good to have the power come on again, and such a nuisance to have it go out. Now we know which neighbors indulge how heavily in candles.

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

There's nothing better for peace of mind these days while traveling by air to be seated next to a jumpy, unfriendly-acting person who opens a paper packet bearing a mystery script (Arabic? Farsi?) and a portrait of a bearded man in a turban and then pours some mystery substance from it into his mouth. On the other hand, K. is rereading Agatha Christie in order and had come to "Death in the Air." At the last minute he exchanged it for "The Pickwick Papers."

Monday, March 18, 2002

All hail the McLears!

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Canada Mints (wintergreen, of course) and Goldenberg Peanut Chews are among the small brightnesses in this time of g-l-o-o-m.

Friday, March 15, 2002

Beware the Ides of March!

Thursday, March 14, 2002

A second round of narcissi delights the eye in this troubled time. Some people just have goodness shining right out of them and know the right thing to do sometimes when even the recipients of all that kindness couldn't begin to know how to proceed.

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

What a week!

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

At last I have a copy of my father's death certificate and know that I've inherited only my appearance and my poor vision from him. It is so strange to know that, were he alive today, he'd be almost 119 years of age. At the time the certificate was issued, there was a place for entering veteran status, and service in both world wars is noted, but not his National Guard service in Texas in connection with the Mexican border conflict (Pancho Villa and General Pershing).

Monday, March 11, 2002

I can't remember what was the disparaging comment about the eight-cornered doctoral headgear, but the inside word on the four-cornered one is that it's like a mortarboard (i.e., not at all becoming), only squashed..

Sunday, March 10, 2002

I don't know what the question is, but I'm pretty sure that oatmeal is part of the answer, especially when you've been up since 3 a.m.

Saturday, March 09, 2002

Not only have we been forced to miss La Fanciulla del West; we haven't even been permitted to listen to the Met Rigoletto broadcast in peace. Grrrrrrr.

Friday, March 08, 2002

"Other People's Dirt" by Louise Rafkin is slight but lively. Every cleaner she talked to has some activity or substance found to be loathesome. At the top of the list seemed to be toenail parings. I concur. At last we see ipheion, which was first to bloom last year, and Suzy, which has been scarce or not appearing at all the past few years.

Thursday, March 07, 2002

Harlan Howard songs sure do have hooks. This was a guy who tapped into the national psyche.

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Tulip lilac wonder has colors that can't be described and that can hardly be photographed, although the link comes very, very close, though it is misleading about scale. The sharp yellow with a tinge of green to it exhibited by the old-fashioned single jonquil cannot be reproduced, either. A little judicious use of the wrist rocket, using pecans for ammo, helps keep the grackles at bay.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

The Escapist Reading Festival continues. Having just finished "The Devil Went Down to Austin," I can say that there is no Austin atmosphere in it. The e-mails at intervals throughout are the best of the book. We were talking about the Fillmore East. Each of remembered different shows. Ones we agreed on were Sly and the Family Stone (perhaps several times), Country Joe and the Fish, Canned Heat, Clarence Carter, Wilbert Harrison, The Ike and Tina Turner Show, Joy of Cooking, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Sam and Dave, Three Dog Night. I'm pretty certain we heard Ian and Sylvia. K. thinks we heard Creedence Clearwater before they were big. K. thinks that Three Dog Night was booed, but I don't remember that. We think we heard It's a Beautiful Day. We both think we heard the Youngbloods. I remember Albert King. I remember Santana and Sha-Na-Na. SNN were not very good. K. thinks we heard the Jefferson Airplane. I remember the Steve Miller Band. I think we heard Delaney and Bonnie. Even though it was free to get in, there was a lot of standing outside in the bitter cold to reach the door. Everyone who's ever done that knows that heading for the restroom line is on your mind afterwards--it's the cold, so I probably missed entire acts by having to inch my way up to the mezzanine. We had to sit through a lot of stupid light shows, as I recall. I wonder whether we have any programs stored away anywhere.

Monday, March 04, 2002

Vigorous pruning keeps a person warm and helps dispel anger. Can every one feel the same way? Oleandric evidence in the nabe suggests that the answer may be in the affirmative. I was all caught up with all periodicals for one brief day and then Rolling Stone, London Review of Books, and the Economist arrived. RS is featuring Smallville also.

Sunday, March 03, 2002

There's a lively appreciation of Superman in Vanity Fair from Christopher Buckley, who appears to be a Smallville convert.

Saturday, March 02, 2002

Manuel's and the parade make a great combination, lacking only a stop at the defunct Congress Avenue Books. The UT band, the Aggies, two wonderful military bands, including the band from Camp Mabry, and a few high-school bands, as well--what could be better? The low temperatures and whipping winds made some of us feel happy ahd exhilarated, and others look blue or red and miserable. We enjoyed the piece on Bastrop, with the two versions of C & D's house there, as seen today and when new over a hundred years ago.

Friday, March 01, 2002

Double anniversary issue it may be, but it was beginning to seem as though the New Yorker had "nothing" in it. I was wrong, though. I enjoyed the way the Reverend Al played the reporter and did learn about more about his earlier days than I'd read elsewhere. Also worth reading was the reminiscence of his father by John Le Carre/David Conford. Shades of The Duke of Deception. Scam artists fool themselves perhaps even more than they fool others.