Strange But True

A woman who was recently crowned Miss Riverton (Utah) after impressing judges with her skill on the piano has been “accused of exercising a more sinister talent —  cooking up homemade bombs and throwing them from a car.” —  AP wire services

*     *     *     *

An American couple in Qatar were charged with causing the death of their daughter by starvation.

Self must admit, after reading about the case, she found it quite stunning.  The husband, Matthew Huang, was working on “two major infrastructure projects associated with improvements for the 2022 World Cup.”  Their daughter, Gloria, adopted from Ghana, had suffered from “severe malnutrition” in early childhood.  She would “periodically refuse food for several days and then binge-eat or get food from bizarre sources, such as from garbage cans or from strangers —  a behavior her parents traced to her impoverished upbringing and were trying to address . . .  When Gloria died, she was in an anorexic episode and had not eaten in as many as four days.” — Twitter Feed:  Gillian Flaccus at

How very, very sad.

Italian Cities

Ca' San Toma.  Self barely saw any tourist wandering the neighbordhood.

Ca’ San Toma, Venice. Self barely saw any tourists wandering the neighbordhood, not until later in her stay.

For approximately three weeks, earlier this year, self was in Venice.  She was there because Margarita Donnelly, founder of Calyx, had found a two-bedroom apartment in Ca’ San Toma.

She’d been in Venice once before, when she was 11.  Self remembers being entranced.

Venice today is a little grim:  the art is overpowering, getting someplace is always daunting.  In the future, when self goes back, she will stick to the canals.  The interior streets of Venice are a maze:  self would find a shop she liked and resolve to go back at some later point, but she’d never be able to find the shop again.  Maps are useless.

One day, self happened upon a costume shop called Flavia’s.  She spent an enchanting time donning all sorts of masks, promised Flavia she’d be back, and never again found that street or that shop (Good thing Flavia’s masks are sold on eBay)

She is thinking of this as she reads a review of Waiting to Be Heard, Amanda Knox’s memoir of her trial for the murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher.  It’s in the latest New York Review of Books, the Aug. 15, 2013 issue.  The article was written by Nathaniel Rich.  Here’s a passage close to the beginning of the piece about a dinner Rich had with some fellow journalists.

We met at a restaurant called, appropriately, Altromondo (Otherworld).  It was underground, like so much of Perugia, including the courtroom where Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Rafaelle Sollecito, were tried and convicted for Kercher’s death.  In Perugia, you almost always feel like you’re underground, even when you’re outside.  The medieval city descends a steep hill in crooked, claustrophobic side streets that cross each other at absurd angles.  The narrowness of the streets is enhanced by the tendency of the city’s ancient buildings to lean forward, as if about to fall on their faces.  The sun doesn’t shine on most streets for most of the day.  The mood is relentlessly clandestine, conspiratorial, paranoid.

There’s more:

In February 2012, it was reported that Knox, who had never given a formal interview to the press, had signed a book contract worth nearly $4 million.  The 461-page memoir was written with the assistance of a journalist, Linda Kulman, in about six months.  It was published this April . . .

Knox’s only “serious boyfriend before Sollecito had a Mohawk and wore a kilt.”  (How appalling of the boyfriend.  Mohawks and kilts simply do not belong together —  ask anyone in the country where kilts originated:  Scotland.)

In the memoir, according to Rich, there are repeated assertions of Amanda’s “former naiveté.”  To cite just a few examples:  “I was too naive back then . . . “, “I was naive, in over my head . . . “, “I was too naive to imagine that . . . “, “As naive as I now realize this was . . . “, “How am I still this naive?”, “I was very naive and not remotely courageous . . . “, “I was naive.” (Given this, self thinks “I was naive” ranks right up there with “You know nothing, Jon Snow” as most annoying phrase of all time.)

Rich writes:  “. . .  the shattering of Knox’s naiveté is the memoir’s central and most gripping narrative.”

Self thinks she will add this book to her reading list.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.


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