Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Continuing with the insomniacs' total escape book club, we ran through "Little Knell" by Catherine Aird. This one, published in 2000 features inhalation anthrax, not as a tool of terrorism but as contagion from an Egyptian mummy. Each chapter head is named using one of the terms used in the book trade: spine broken, bumped, defective, stained, faded, marked, frayed, scuffed, loose, creased, torn, worn, spotted, used, hinge cracked, backstrip missing, and corners blunted (in order),

Monday, April 29, 2002

Yahoo deserves whatever happens to it, IMO. For hours it was impossible to log on to check SouthRiverAustin. I haven't really watched King of the Hill, but I was amused to learn that supposedly there's a character in it called Luanne Platter, obviously named after that fabulous Luby's creation, her near-namesake, the Lu Ann Platter. All the trashy pulp revistas about farandula are having homenajes to Maria Felix. I hate movies from the 'fifties, generally speaking, but one of my true favorites is "La Escondida". I had never realized that among her husbands were both Agustin Lara and Jorge Negrete. The escapist book club has not closed its doors. Courtesy of the library, I zoomed through A Going Concern, by Catherine Aird--basic stuff, but for a long time the library wasn't acquiring any new ones. I liked it that most of the characters' last names were those of type faces: Baskerville, Didot, Goudy, and Garamond among them. A less successful name used was Gillsans, which is highly unlikely. Cheltenham would have been a good one to use, but I don't remember that it was called into play.

Sunday, April 28, 2002

Ever since a trench had to be dug diagonally the entire way across Mack's Yard (don't ask) we've been using the bare patch to grow, first Home Depot super-bargain Dutch tulips, followed by several varieties of spectacular poppies from mystery bulk seed bouth at Big Red Sun over by Terrazas Library branch, followed by bachelor buttons, Drummond's phlox, and delphinium. We put up a sign on Mack's gate asking the contract meter readers to forgive us and, if they were so inclined, to avoid walking on the part of the yard. Thanks to reader compliance, we have had a truly spectacular show and continue to have one. During the last week, though, suddenly the paper sign that we had stapled to the gate began looking ragged and finally was found on the ground. Replaced twice, twice it was back on the ground, each time smaller. Now we know the reason: blue jays! They must be attracted to the paper as nest material. Mystery solved; case closed.

Saturday, April 27, 2002

The Statesman claims that the Travis County Courthouse is the busiest location for early voting. When we arrived, it had been so slow that there were only two people working the site and we were the second and third voters, at 11:20 a.m.

Friday, April 26, 2002

Today provided yet more reason to resolve never, ever to do business with the Co-op again, unless it is absolutely necessary and there is no other recourse of any kind anywhere in the universe.

Thursday, April 25, 2002

Books of days gone by

The work with the books continues at the rate of a few a day, but the number's already over five hundred and the first bookcase isn't even done yet. It's slow work because such a proportion predates the ISBN system. In the course of trying to learn something about the history of Hurlbut's Story of the Bible for children, I discovered the Baldwin Project, transcribing copyright-free children's literature. Just David is up, old weepie that it is, by the author of the Pollyanna books. It's transcribed from the very book that we used to read. They're still hoping to get Children of Odin by Padraic Colum. That was on the fourth-grade bookshelf and one of the newest books in the school. Now I learn that it was from 1920. One thing about this site that's really great is that, in selected cases, the period illustrations are up alsoAnother favorite, from the third-grade bookshelf, was Wi Sapa, by Lyla Hoffine, which turns out to have been published in 1936. The Hurlbut, by the way, is a 1904 edition and seems to be cheaper than most comic books. It appears that every American Protestant child who owned any book at all must have owned a copy of Hurlbut's Story of the Bible. The book continues to be published, but in much watered-down editions and without those great illustrations.

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

I can't believe we got suckered into watching the PBS documentary on the Hudson. Personally, I think that if TV was on the menu, then it should have been Smallville, but S-ville no doubt will be repeated. We'll probably watch the second and final part as well, gulls that we are. This must have been a low-budget production. A huge chunk was spent shilling for some obnoxious dealers in Hudson River School or luminist painters, when therre are any number of legitimate art historians that could have been consulted. At one point the screen showed a painting of Lake George, not the Hudson. Footage of the Hudson River Day Line was used to illustrate tales of Fulton and the Clermont. We enjoyed the two old boys (Quinn and Selzer?) at the crematorium. There were a lot of unidentified visuals having to do with Glens Falls and at last Finch & Pruyn was mentioned, in connection with river drives. Not the least of this productions sins was spending an inordinate amount of time listening to the insufferable Bill McKibbon drone on. IRL, he seems to be just as obnoxious as one would have believed. Bill Moyers may be the worst hand with a canoe paddle ever seen. He appeared to be living in mortal fear that the canoe would capsize or that he'd topple in; McK in the stern was doing all the work.

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Never, ever again do I want to "follow up" on something, especially not on somebody else's something. This must mean that never again must I "initiate" anything. Goodbye, Daily Bureaucracy of Living..

Monday, April 22, 2002

They haven't succeeded in driving unpasteurized cider off the market yet. The kind of people who need warning labels on cider are the kind of people who don't notice the difference in taste and have never had their own cider vinegar, cider "champagne," or hard cider. The only time I ever saw my mother come close to crying was when she dropped a six-and-a-half-gallon glass carboy of cider onto her foot. I know that I would have fainted or maybe even died right there on the spot. We used to have three laboratory glass acid vials with ground-glass stoppers, bought for a quarter each at a flea market long ago. One is lost, and sulphuric acid, used to hold after-shave lotion. was dropped onto a tile floor and broken a couple of years ago. Now HCL has fallen onto its noggin and had the stopper driven in too far for us to be able to remove, thereby joining the old cutglass vinegar caster. If only we could find someone with one of those handy-dandy glass-joint pullers.

Today brought the joys of dentistry, not to mention the joys of the Cavitron apparatus, yet another tool of the devil. Luckily there was some trouble with it, so yours truly was not subjected to its ministrations until nearly the end of the session. The noise is at an extremely unpleasant frequency, and the feeling is not to great, either. It appears that those wearing pacemakers should not be subjected to ultrasonic scaling, as the frequency interferes with pacemaker function.

Sunday, April 21, 2002

K. thought that being presented with a Super Soaker would lift my spirits and he was so right! It's just a modest item, not a super-super-super-duper model. If those urracas keep hanging around, it'll be old pecans from the slingshot and waterbolts from the soaker for them. When you look up "urraca" in a dictionary, it always says "magpie," but if you ask anybody what a grackle's called in Spanish, the answer is always "urraca."

Saturday, April 20, 2002

Whoever's working on the Cinco de Mayo page is changing it almost hourly. After a wedding and a graduation, I sure don't want to miss the chance to sit out under the trees and hear conjunto music and drink beer and unwind. Spamarama isn't even up at all yet. It feels as though dread summer is arriving. We must begin a list of potential diversions so that we do something other than see movies all the time to stay cool. It's time to pitch the screen tent in the yard, time to set up the outdoor kitchen.

Friday, April 19, 2002

Some people's weblogs are so candid and personal. I drop in on a few here in Austin from time to time, just to see how others are experiencing life in this time and this place. Nothing I write anywhere will ever be that exposed. What the purpose of this effort is, I'm not sure, but it's allusive only. A while ago I ran across a list of books read from circa 197? to sometime later in the 'seventies. Just seeing the list called back events, in the same way that hearing the Twine Time show on the radio will bring back, say, Paul's or the Dutch or some other joint. I still have my 45 of Alvin Cash doing Twine Time and I even know where it is.

Thursday, April 18, 2002

At last we found a great price for TV y Novelas and don't n-e-e-d to trek to La Michoacana or La Hacienda or La Moreliana to pick it up. H-E-B has been selling it fairly faithfully lately as well. I can't believe the prices being asked on the WWW for it. If we'd subscribed a bit earlier we could have taken advantage of the tarjeta de telefono deal that was even better.

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

On our novela the Banda el Recodo was featured and now I can't rid my mental jukebox of "Y llegaste tu." The lyric is irritatingly repetitive, but of course all the time that tune with all the hooks is what's really going through your mind. While looking for streaming audio on this, I ran across a banda appreciation whose writer regards the letra of this song as great literature. I'd still like to find some streaming audio for this, but the Walmart search function isn't working well right now. Of all the big stores, Walmart has the best selection of norteno, Tejano, onda grupero, etc. There are some small on-line discotecas that do, but they never feature streaming audio. Walmart even has somebody who censors in Spanish. We made the mistake of acquiring a Tropa F there that was bleeped. Amazon has not much.

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Now I can't remember where I saw the piece on photovoltaics on the Navajo reservation. It may have been in some of the business press. It still costs over $20,000 to install a mile of electric line and there are still thousands of people using gasoline generators or having no electricity at all. This project builds a summer shade and installs solar cells on the roof that generate enough power to run a small TV, a small refrigerator, electric lighting, and a few other very useful items to have. The piece had several photographs and it could be seen that turquose-colored vehicles are still the favorite. Now I think that the piece was in Metropolis, but I can't find it.

Monday, April 15, 2002

The Jolly Rancher founder, Bill Harmsen, has gone to meet his maker: one child in Mexico and the other two still living in Colorado. The outfit was sold first to Leaf and then to Hershey. The Hershey people closed the Colorado plant and moved production to Pennsylvania, says the NYT obit, but I bet it's now gone to Mexico.

Sunday, April 14, 2002

I'm ready to skip to 2003. What a favor people do when they arrange their business and personal affairs in such a fashion as to avoid disrupting the lives of others for months on end. Never was the escapist film festival more needed: The escapist film festival more needed: Shaolin Soccer, Phantom Lady, and The One. I can't remember the names of the other Stephen Chow movies we've seen, but this was far from the best. We did, however, enjoy the sight of a ladies' soccer team all of the members of which wore painted-on mustaches. The actor playing Golden Leg Fung we've seen in tons and tons of movies, and most of the other faces were familiar also. The One does no favors for Jet-Li's American career--it showed off no grace and it didn't show off his personality. Delroy Lindo was wasted in this one also. It turned out that we'd seen Phantom Lady and on the big screen, but we couldn't remember where--New Haven? NYC? Rochester? San Francisco? London? Definitely a B item, but visually handsome.

Saturday, April 13, 2002

After trying and trying to get a set of the "post card" 50-state stamp issue--"Greetings from America"--and being told week after week that it hadn't yet arrived, this week we were told that it was sold out, although one sheet was eventually found. We're going to want more of these. They were issued in the first week of April.

Friday, April 12, 2002

My advice to the world is: do use a non-power push reel mower. It is so much easier and agile and faster and will not plague your neighbors with noise, just as a rake is faster than a stupid blower and edging by hand does a much better job than one of those stupid gas edgers or a weed-whacker. But don't buy a sharpening kit unless you're willing to spend a day taking everything apart. Bad as old A-1 Chainsaws or whatever it was called was, if you were willing to wait you could have your mower sharpened and done well. The kit purchased came from Vermont Country Store but is the same one sold by the sole remaining American manufacturer (so far as I know). I didn't seem to be getting a very good edge, but in fact the blades do seem to be much sharper.

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Daisanne, the NYT frugal traveler, visited Veracruz. She's a fan of Agustin Lara and mentioned Solamente una vez in particular. She visited his house there.

This will be the first wedding we've ever been to at which there's a wishing well. Yesterday afternoon saw the first caterpillars of the gulf fritillary consuming passionvine and this afternoon saw the first monarch butterflies heading north. The economy can't be as bad as it's painted--evidence: mail-order catalogues just received, orders attempted, nearly everything out of stock--or else merchants were extremely pessimistic about the business they'd do and stocked practically nothing. Every day a little bit of work gets done on the book catalogue: one of the ones today was one of my favorites as a kid and that very copy was one of my maternal grandfather's favorites as well: Aunt Charlotte's Stories of Bible History for the Little Ones. The front page has always been missing, so I never knew who was the author. There are fifty-two sections, one for each Sunday in the Year, half for the Old Testament and half for the New. They were very lively retellings and this edition has a few chromolithographs still with it. Today I learned that the author is Charlotte Mary Yonge, whose novels I enjoyed, as many as have been available, in the Virago paperback editions. The Bible stories were first published in 1875; others were: Aunt Charlotte's Evenings at Home with the Poets: A collection of Poems for the Young, with conversations, arranged in twenty-five evenings (1881), Aunt Charlotte's Scripture Readings (1876) , Aunt Charlotte's Stories of English History for the little ones (1873), Aunt Charlotte's Stories of French History for the little ones (1874), Aunt Charlotte's Stories of German History for the little ones (1877-8), Aunt Charlotte's Stories of Greek History for the little ones (1876), Aunt Charlotte's Stories of Roman History for the little ones (1877). I wonder whether they first appeared in magazines. I know I've read The Heir of Redclyffe and The Daisy Chain for sure. Charlotte Yonge has a web shrine in the U.K.

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

I love mail! Today brought another wonderful post card, this one from Dublin friends traveling in Cambodia, plus an official copy of the state-filed marriage documents that we never received all those decades ago. It must have failed to follow us when we used to move around so much. Nearly 400 book shave thus far been catalogued. I read Heidi in 1952. In 1911, my father acquired a small pocket edition of Macaulay's essay on the Life of Dr. Johnson for the 8th Encyclopaedia Brittanica. We bought a lot of books on movies in the late 'sixties, evidently when we were going to the Everson series Friday nights at the New School.

It's too bad I didn't record what variety of poppy is doing so spectacularly in the back yard--one we've never used before--a soft rose-red, not Chinese orange-red, with grey spots, not black ones, at the base, with a prominent white "halo" inside surrounding a large yellow "button."

Monday, April 08, 2002

Any bit of cheer is so welcome these days, and a post card from J&B is great. I wonder what they're doing about food?

Saturday, April 06, 2002

The current Forbes magazine has an appreciation of Jules Verne as a "futurist." The accompanying graphics are from vintage Classics Illustrated comics. We never had money for any kind of comics, even when they cost just a dime. We used to see what the Barts had and what Francie had, and the Donald Duck ones were always in the waiting room when we went to the doctor once a year. "Beebleberry pies" as a search term turns up practically nothing.

Friday, April 05, 2002

In case everything's too much for us between now and election day, at least we've voted. H-E-B is at its most cheerful between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. these days, free of the floor-polisher, but the fresh tortillas have been delivered and it's not too busy yet. We couldn't figure out what the pair sitting in the car in front of the house were up to. A look through the binoculars revealed that they were fanning out sets of color chips, whether paint or Pantone or what, and holding them up, evidently trying to figure out in what two colors the window trim is painted.

Thursday, April 04, 2002

We think that the character played by Eduardo Santamarina will save the day in Amigas y rivales. He and Nailea Norvind, along with Ernesto la Guardia, are latecomers to the plot. It's been ages since either one of has been ill, let alone both of us. For me, it must have been back in 1991, another time of great stress and crisis. How can I tell? The clue lies in the expiration date on the cough medicine. I'm "never" ill, but when I am it always involves a sore throat and lots of "residue," which always makes me cough unendurably. CCH has always relied on horehound drops; but I've always needed Pine Brothers honey, which aren't made these days, just the honey-lemon ones. I also like Throat Discs, which must have capsicum in them. Hall's Mentholyptus I can stand, Vicks make me ill all by themselves, and I can't even stand the smell of something cherry-flavored when I'm sick. I hadn't realized that Throat Discs are supposedly over 75 years old. Back long ago when they were owned by Parke-Davis the packaging made them appear to be a product of the late 'forties or early 'fifties.

All of a sudden there's a need for respectable go-to-a-wedding wardrobe items, of which I'm fresh out. Speedy shopper that I am, on-line catalogue shopping is the ticket. Unfortunately, everything wanted and in the sizes wanted is already out of stock, pretty much, causing fall-back from the wanted to the merely acceptable in nearly every case. There must be pent-up consumer demand somewhere because this has never happened to me before, especially not completely across the board, even in the days when a respectable wardrobe had to be constantly available for all occasions. Or could the answer be that merchandisers are stocking a small inventory?

Wednesday, April 03, 2002

I've been forgetting to note finished reading--to think that for years I kept a very complete diary of the Read and the Waiting to be Read. I don't have access to the UT libraries these days. There's not as much money to spend; or, rather, books have become so much more expensive, proportionately, and since Congress Avenue Books has been closed there's less temptation. The Austin public library's on-line system for reservations and interlibrary lending is great, though, and does encourage the keeping of a list of prospective reading. There was nothing particularly enlightening about Mexican-American Folklore, from way back in 1988, but the author's personal enthusiasm was engaging. The lyric for Allá en el rancho grande is included, but he makes a great mystery of the origins of the song. We have the Gene Autry version, but we watched the Rancho Grande movie in which it was introduced (same title) back when H-E-B had videos for rental from the epoca de oro. The Book Shop is a novella engaging and extremely well written and observed but unpleasant in its plot, which involves small-town "neighborly" cruelty and unkindness. This may be skinny and I love Penelope Fitzgerald, but this is not one to be read again and is destined for the deaccession stack. Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard is slight, and puffed beyond what it should be for all that. This also goes to the don't keep stack. I had forgotten that I had read an edition of the Book of Margery Kempe for an introductory course in English history. This I won't be keeping either, but it was entertaining to read again. I wish she'd written more about her travel arrangements and household contrivances (don't forget, she had 14 living children) and less about her mystical experiences!

Tuesday, April 02, 2002

The Way We Live Now is one of our favorites, but this production, except for the Bear Garden scenes, makes it seem just half Trollope, with the other half being Dickens. The Virgin Suicides, derived from a novel I haven't read, continues our unplanned Kirsten Dunst festival. We knew right away that it had been filmed in Canada. I wonder from whose point of view the novel is narrated. This is a movie that shouldn't have been made, but there were certain bits about kids and teenagers that were on the mark.

Monday, April 01, 2002

Everybody's Famous was thought to be another movie when chosen, but we wouldn't have missed it! Now we can't g4t the song that was such an exemplar of pure dreck off our mental jukeboxes. Have we ever seen a Belgian comedy before? placeholder I don't know what this world is coming to. "Are you ready for a miracle? I'm as ready as I can be"--all apologies to Patti LaBelle and everybody else who sings this. I don't know who sings "I don't know what this world is coming to." Paul Ray didn't play either of these on last Saturday's show, but what he did play has kept these two in my mind.