1st Sunday of May (2013)

Blustery winds.  Even, rain.

Watching “Arbitrage.”  That Richard Gere is so smooth.  Self can see why the lovely French mistress is so besotted.  Unfortunately, things do not remain ducky for long, they never do in a thriller. Who wrote this smart screenplay?  Self looks up the information on IMDB.  Oh, the movie was written and directed by a twenty-five-year-old named Nicholas Jarecki.  Imagine that, dear blog readers.  A twenty-five-year-old.  And he not only wrote the screenplay, he directed it.  Way to go, NJ!

Self went to the Menlo Park Farmers Market and bought cherries and nectarines.  When she got home, The Man was gone.  She thought he had taken The Ancient One for a walk, as Bella was not in her customary nest in the kitchen.  But then she heard a noise in the backyard and when she opened the back door, there was Bella!  Wandering forlornly back and forth on the deck!  Oh, come in, sweetie!  Come in!  Self cannot believe this creature is still ambulatory!  She is turning 18 this September!

Then, shortly, The Man walked in.  Turned out he had gone to the Mexican market and bought five lbs. of tripe:  the regular one we usually get, and a thicker kind that he said he wanted to try out.

Pretty soon, this was what was simmering on the stove:

Callos with two kinds of tripe:  a specialty of The Man

Callos with two kinds of tripe: a specialty of The Man

The full name of the dish is Callos Madrileña.  It uses tomato sauce, chickpeas, and chorizo de Bilbao.

Step # 1 is boiling and boiling and boiling.  Step # 2 is this:

DSCN0010

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

The New York Review of Books (7 March 2013)

Below are the books self is interested in reading after perusing the 7 March 2013 issue of The New York Review of Books.  Her choices are nothing if not idiosyncratic:

Former People:  The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy, by Douglas Smith:  reviewed by Michael Scammell (Self admires the title of this book tremendously; she, too, has felt, many times, like a “former people.”)

Now All Roads Lead to France:  A Life of Edward Thomas, by Matthew Hollis:  reviewed by Helen Vendler.  In a nutshell:  “Thomas meets Frost in London in 1913, begins (for the first time since Oxford) to write poetry, feels guilty (in complex ways, including the fear of cowardice) about watching others die while he remains at home, decides to enlist, trains as an officer (in part for the higher pay), volunteers for the front, and courts death.  When the death arrives (from a bomb blast in Arras) it is both shocking and unsurprising.” Tragic.

Several books about General David Petraeus, reviewed by Thomas Powers:

  • The Insurgents:  David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War, by Fred Kaplan
  • The Fourth Star:  Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army, by David Cloud and Greg Jaffe

In the course of the review, Powers cites three other fascinating books:

  • The Centurions, a novel by Jean Lartéguy, about the lessons learned by French army officers captured by the Vietminh at Dien Bien Phu (“You’ve got to have people on your side . . . if you want to win a war.”)
  • Street Without Joy, a “history of the long French failure in Vietnam,” by the French writer Bernard B. Fall
  • Hell in a Very Small Place, also by Bernard B. Fall, about “a set-piece battle at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.”

And now, self must get going if she wants to catch the Menlo Park Farmers Market.

Arrivederci, dear ones.

Back Again to Pham Thi Hoai’s “Nine Down Makes Ten,” Begun Over a Month Ago

Self frequently alternates between books.  One of her current readings is the Trevor Carolan anthology, Another Kind of Paradise:  Short Stories From the New Asia-Pacific.  The story she left off reading before she left for Venice was Vietnamese writer Pham Thi Hoai’s “Nine Down Makes Ten.”  The anonymous narrator parses all the various lovers she has had.  She was on lover # 8 before self left for Venice.  Self will resume:

I did not know whether I was worthwhile or mundane, but this was not really the issue.  I was grateful to this man and enjoyed the taste of his affection, despite a small stubborn girl within me who refused to cooperate.  She said:  According to this particular mode of obsession all objects are equal, and then I am no different from a potato or an ant, but if people like to manufacture an obsession by constantly stoking their own engine, then by all means they should go ahead.  Gradually I learned to repress that obstinate girl and ignore my uneasiness with the difference between artificially produced obsessions and primeval obsessions.  Let Proust distinguish between the two, or the column “Mothers Advise Daughters” in some woman’s magazine; I am interested only in my own obsession and its consequences.  The most ironic aspect of its unforeseen consequences was that he and I both became pitiful victims of the obsession.  It forced him to wait by every street on which I might pass, to pull me away from all activities, no matter how fundamental to existence:  eating, sleeping, seeking work; it interfered with all my relationships, with my family, colleague, friends, and expanded into all areas and times that I liked to save to myself.  I no longer had my own space, time, or lifestyle; my environment was upset, my psychological state was upset, my language went out of my control.

The piece goes on.

Self would also like to inform dear blog readers that yesterday afternoon, she and The Man watched The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mira Nair’s new movie, showing at the Aquarius.  Self loved the music, and the passion of the lead actor, a Wall Street yuppie whose small act of defiance (growing a beard that makes him look more “foreign” after 9/11) leads him to commit to larger and larger causes that have nothing to do with his job or with making money.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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