Quote of the Day: 44

A Promised Land, p. 190:

  • I’m not by nature a superstitious person. As a kid, I didn’t have a lucky number or own a rabbit’s foot. I didn’t believe in ghosts or leprechauns, and while I might have made a wish when blowing out birthday candles or tossing a penny into a fountain, my mother had always been quick to remind me that there’s a direct link between doing your work and having your wishes come true.

A mere two paragraphs later:

  • My assortment of charms grew steadily: a miniature Buddha, an Ohio buckeye, a laminated four-leaf clover, a tiny bronze likeness of Hanuman the monkey god, all manner of angels, rosary beads, crystals, and rocks. Each morning I made a habit of choosing five or six of them and putting them in my pocket, half consciously keeping track of which ones I had with me on a particularly good day.


Late: International Women’s Day 2021

In honor of International Women’s Day 2021 (which was two days ago), and since self is reading 44’s A Promised Land, here is the fabulous Michelle Obama with her man at the Biden Inauguration:

And here’s another fabulous lady who is mentioned in A Promised Land, FLOTUS Dr. Jill Biden! Also with her man at his inauguration.

Woo hoo! So incredibly happy to have these two as role models for our young women.

Self is about a fourth of the way through A Promised Land. Please don’t rush her, she is having such a blast reading.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Thoughts Thus Far on A PROMISED LAND

Self is on p. 88.

  • 44 is a very, very good writer. But dear blog readers knew that already.
  • The parts with Michelle are some of the best parts of A Promised Land. She is 44’s biggest ace in the hole.
  • Self loves that 44 is always questioning his motives. When the idea of running for President starts being broached, he is honest about his fears. But, in the end, he writes, “I had to know how this thing played out.” (p. 78)
  • After he announces his candidacy, he describes campaigning this way: “sleeping in a Hampton Inn or a Holiday Inn or an Americ Inn or a Super 8. I’d wake up after five or six hours . . . It was a life of not glamour but monotony, and the prospect of eighteen continuous months of it quickly wore down my spirit.”
  • But there’s also his singular dedication: “I was learning a lot and quickly. I spent hours dutifully poring over the fat briefing books prepared by my staff, inhaling the latest studies on the value of early childhood education, new developments in battery technology that would make clean energy more accessible, and China’s manipulation of its currency to boost its exports.” Contrast that with 45! Self heard that when Biden’s transition team was finally given access to the daily briefings, they were surprised at the extent to which the daily briefings seemed to have been tailored to 45’s inclinations, because they’d been whittled down to about two pages.
  • RE Bill and Hillary: He “admired” Bill, but was “more sympathetic” to Hillary because he saw in her what his “mother and grandmother had gone through . . . “

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Sentence of the Day Belongs to Obama

Whether in sports or politics, it’s hard to understand the precise nature of momentum.

— p. 49, A Promised Land

It’s not just politics and sports, sir. Momentum applies to writing as well.

The Economist, 16 January 2021

Only one in six voters now supports the storming of the Capitol, but many of them still think the election was stolen, partly because, shamefully, Republicans have not dared to tell them the extent of Mr. Trump’s lies. Now is the time to start.

Mr. Trump will never forgive those whom, like Mitch McConnell, the Senate Leader, he judges to have failed him by acknowledging Mr. Biden’s election victory. Having begun to move against him, they should finish the job.

Sentence of the Day: TO START A WAR

The first plane, the one that plowed into floors 93 through 99 of the World Trade Center’s North Tower, was an astonishing spectacle.

To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq, by Robert Draper, Chapter One, p. 4

Self was up, watching CNN before getting son his breakfast and taking him to school. She saw the first plane, and her jaw dropped. She saw the second plane, and she woke up the rest of her family and told them, “Something’s happening.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

How To Open A Book

  • At first Paul Wolfowitz mistook the tremors in the Pentagon for an earthquake.

— Opening sentence, To Start a War: How the Bush Administration Took America Into Iraq, by Robert Draper

Finished The Restless Moon a few minutes ago. Five stars.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

12 Years a Slave Concludes

SPOILERS only if you have no idea how this book concludes. You do realize that Solomon Northup would not be able to write his memoirs if he remained a slave.

After 12 years, Solomon Northup meets a good man (There must have been a real scarcity of them in the South of the 1840s, if it took him 12 years, just sayin’). That this man is white is a given, because if he were not white, he would never have been able to effect Solomon’s release. Second, this man, whose name was Bass, was played by Brad Pitt in the movie version, so right away you think: HERO!

Solomon decides to trust Bass with his story: the fact that he was kidnapped by slavers and brought south. And Bass decides to write a letter to Solomon’s family in Saratoga. And then Solomon’s family has to find an agent, who has to receive permission (from the court) to locate Solomon.

The letter from Bass arives in Saratoga in August, but it’s not until December that anything is done about it. Solomon’s family sends an agent, Henry Northup, south to search for Solomon (Self is mighty confused that the agent who is looking for him has the same last name as Solomon himself, but doesn’t appear to be a relation) Unfortunately, Solomon Northup is not easy to locate, because for the last 12 years, he was known as Platt the slave.

Finally, someone decides to focus more on the letter-writer, Bass, than on the slave in question, and they find that the letter Bass posted was from this particular place, and so the slave in question must also be from that place, and now they look for Bass, to question him, but Bass moves around a lot because he’s a kind of journeyman carpenter. At long last, they find him in some place while he’s in between jobs, and they start talking to him, asking him where he’s worked the last year, and finally they ask him if he wrote the letter concerning Solomon Northup.

And Bass first says, “Excuse me, that’s none of your business.”

Only after more conversation does Bass decide to admit that he in fact wrote the letter. After his admission, he says, “I have done nothing to be ashamed of. I am the man who wrote the letter.”

It comes out so roundabout, you realize how much is at stake (for Bass as well as for Solomon). This is really a fantastic narrative.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Ch. 13: Twelve Years a Slave

Now, Solomon Northup is working for a crazy master named Epps. This part was adapted in the movie — in fact, the Epps scenes have lingered longest in self’s memory. Could also be because Lupita Nyong’o plays Patsey, the fastest cotton picker on the whole plantation — no, maybe in the whole American South. (The great Sarah Paulson played Mrs. Epps: she killed in the role)

This Epps liked to make his slaves dance, even after they’ve had a long day laboring in the fields. He wanted them to laugh. He wanted Northup to play the fiddle.


Cotton Plantation, 1841

The slaves work seven days a week, with 15 minutes for lunch.

All that is allowed them is corn and bacon, which is given out at the corncrib and smoke-house every Sunday morning. Each one receives, as his weekly allowance, three and a half pounds of bacon, and corn enough to make a peck of a meal. That is all — no tea, coffee, sugar, and with the exception of a very scanty sprinkling now and then, no salt.

12 Years a Slave, still Chapter 12

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