bronze_ribbons: Sveta kissing her French Open trophy (Kuz kiss)
In the course of thanking Bishop for some Brazilian champagne that helped rescue a party with thwarted matchmaking and sullen guests:


I sound like notes for a Mary McCarthy novel. Have you read her last in which Mary (divorced and remarried) is seduced by Wilson (divorced and remarried) after a Wellfleet reading of Racine's Berenice? In the last chapter Mary driving to Boston for an abortion is run into and killed by a red-headed Millay-like Cape poet driving on the wrong side of the road. Who can doubt that Mary really lives in her books? If she ever loses her mind, she'll never know which parts of her life she lived and which she wrote. She is somehow rather immense without her books ever being exactly good form or good imagination.
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bronze_ribbons: Dee and Ryo from FAKE in deep kiss (Dee/Ryo liplock)


"When I can see problems and solutions others can't, it makes other people angry. I realize that it's not enough to identify the difficulties and know what must be done. One must convey the proper course to those who have the problem, so they might see the way as if they had discovered it themselves. [My sister] Jenny explained it to me, but I lack the ability to accomplish her ends, try though I might."

He gentled his hold, because she'd guessed correctly: he was angry, but not at her. "And if you cannot defer to those of lesser insight, Wife? Are you to keep silent and do nothing?"

Another sigh followed by a silence. Silence at least suggested Louisa was considering Joseph's question, and it meant he could hold her a while longer.

"I used to wish I would wake up one day and be less intelligent," she said, sounding very weary. "That is, of course, blasphemy, but I don't like making people feel angry and stupid, and I like even less when they must try to impose those emotions on me in retaliation."

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bronze_ribbons: (hooch boots)

People gathered from near and far,
In small groups and large,
To share their fears and grief
And the darkness in their hearts.

A year like no other, this was,
Testing us beyond what we'd ever imagined.
Day after day, week after week,
We found ourselves growing
And becoming sturdy
Because there was no other choice.


[I sang this years ago. Something I learned today: the ritual it comes from was co-written by a Unitarian Universalist and "a self-described Quaker witch" (source: http://indysolstice.com).]
bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (Russian tins)
This morning's bathtub reading was supplied by the first 56 pages of the August issue of GQ, which includes Michael Paterniti's ode to Yotam Ottolenghi. This passage in particular caught my eye:


The immediate impression of the trio [Ottolenghi, NOPI head chef Ramael Scully, and recipe developer Esme Howarth] made was of friendliness -- how well suited to one another they were, and how soft-spoken and solicitous Ottolenghi was.

"Would you like some tea and cookies?" he asked, and without waiting for an answer he went rummaging to retrieve some. I'd been served so much Ottolenghi food by others, and now Ottolenghi himself was serving me cookies. This seemed to be the opposite of Gordon Ramsay. This was the opposite of the matador chefs and their brash opining. In fact, if you could say anything about Yotam Ottolenghi, you might say he contained multitudes: a sweet temperament and fierce intensity, iron discipline and wild creativity.


In checking on whether the piece was online, I found a speech by Paterniti on storytelling, which includes this anecdote:



I have an unofficial contest going with some writer friends, to see who can ask the stupidest question EVER without meaning to, and I think I recently won. I was interviewing the chef Yotam Ottolenghi in London, and at the risk of never being asked to go on assignment again, I'm going to quote my question, verbatim:

So I'm just--butternut! Butternut squash, broccoli polenta, pearled lemon, that idea of, and sometimes this happens at the ridiculous high-end restaurant, the prawn did this, eat the whole flower, or whatever, just get that marrow, or whatever it is, up here, on the plate, all foamy, and this is what you’re doing without having to turn it into some sort of ridiculous cooky thing in these restaurants, like, maybe you could tell me: Why are we doing this!?


Seriously, how can you answer a question like this? And you know you're in trouble when the response is, as it was in Ottolenghi's case, a very long silence, a polite but quizzical expression usually reserved for the platypus tank at the zoo, and then, with pity: I think I know what you're trying to say...


As someone who dines on her foot on a regular basis and actively contemplates vows of silence every third day, I found this awfully reassuring.
bronze_ribbons: knife with bronze ribbons (bribbons)
The subject line is from a Paris Review interview of Yves Bonnefoy, who recently passed away.

Bonnefoy's translations of Yeats's poems are on my bedside bookshelf. I quoted from the very first one I read at http://www.varytheline.org/blog/2011/12/15/a-few-old-socks-and-love-letters/.

Also from the PR interview:


What shapes the poem, what makes it what it is . . . that depends on causes which are within me already, and have been for a long time, although I am not yet aware of them. I will understand them only once the work is finished.

I must point out that I can postpone the decision to start writing for years. It's when I'm at peace with the thoughts and the images that are generated by the previous book. I will not start writing again except when I notice that the last book is no longer sufficient to express or order my relationship with the world.
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bronze_ribbons: cute critter with knife and ribbons (bribboned critter)
30 November 1954:


My poems are supposed now to come out in the early spring, I think, but Houghton Mifflin and I don't seem to be getting along too well. I am sending them the sections from this translation, because I said I would mostly, but I haven't heard yet whether they are interested or not. I sent them all my stories to date, and they dropped them like a hot potato, so if you ever go by 2 Park Street you can throw stones at their windows for me, if you want to.
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bronze_ribbons: three daffodiles learning left (daffodils)
From "Inside the High-Drama Life of Hamilton Impresario Oskar Eustis," by Adam Green (Vogue, March 2016 print, February 2016 online:

Among the projects Eustis is currently developing is a play based on the author Cheryl Strayed's popular online advice column "Dear Sugar," the climax of which is a letter from a man whose son was killed by a drunk driver. "She tells him, 'Your son was your greatest gift in his life and he is your greatest gift in his death too,' " Eustis says. "And in a way, you want to go, 'No! Fuck you! It's not a gift!' But what you realize is that that's the exact challenge. The loss, you can't control. It's never going to be a good thing--I'd trade fucking everything to have him alive again. And I don't get that choice. The choice I get is: What am I going to do with it?"


tomato cutting
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bronze_ribbons: yoshizumi flying off cliff (yosh37 yoshizumi off cliff)
But the real hurdle facing "Londongrad," one I didn't expect, wasn't that it was too Western. It was that it was too Russian. A common stance among educated Russians -- the ones I imagined would enjoy "Londongrad" the most -- is to refuse to watch a series or a film simply because it's Russian. The first Twitter reactions to "Londongrad" sounded the same note, over and over: "It's watchable, probably because it wasn't filmed in Russia." "As much as I hate everything Russian, I might give this one a try." "God help me, I can't believe I am watching a Russian TV series." "I might watch it later. I'm in no mood to see my compatriots." On a site devoted to romantic fan fiction, an author expressed her shock after combining two of the lead characters' names into one, as is the custom among fanfic writers (Misha + Alisa = Milisa): It was the first time in her memory that the names were Russian.


- Michael Idov, My Accidental Career as a Russian Screenwriter
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bronze_ribbons: three daffodiles learning left (daffodils)


There was the time when she and her friends swam across the Hudson to New Jersey on a lark, and the time that the cosmetics factory went up in flames, "and the neighborhood smelled beautiful for months."


- Corey Kilgannon, "Born in the Basement and Never Left," a character study of 93-year-old New Yorker Eleanor Murray
bronze_ribbons: (hooch boots)
From the July (I think) issue of Elle:



Sarah: We had no religion at all, but we were Jews in New Hampshire, and my sister--who is now a rabbi--said it best: We were, like, the only Jews in Bedford, New Hampshire, as well as the only Democrats, so we just kind of associated those two things together. My dad raised us to believe that paying taxes is an honor.

Judd [Apatow]: How does your sister talk about Judaism?

Sarah: It's funny because sometimes I'll get cunty with her, and I'll be like, "Oh, so you believe there's a man in the sky?" And she'll go, "Well, I like to live my life as though there is one." And I'm just like, "Oh, you're beautiful."


Judd: I wish I could convince myself to believe the way your sister believes because I'm so exhausted from not believing.

Sarah: I actually don't think that she believes in God, necessarily. I think she just loves the ritual of religion and finding meaning in every little thing. She loves living her life that way.

Judd: She doesn't believe in a God that is actively involved in people's lives, making choices?

Sarah: She doesn't believe that God is rooting for the Giants and not the Patriots. She's not fucking ridiculous.

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bronze_ribbons: yoshizumi flying off cliff (yosh37 yoshizumi off cliff)

Like the astrophysicists they are ("If you want to impress people, you are an astrophysicist," Mr. Beatty said. "If you want to talk to them, you are an astronomer, and if you don't want to talk to them, you are a physicist."), they scheduled their honeymoon in Norway so they could stay up and watch the midnight sun.


- http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/fashion/weddings/a-marriage-made-in-the-heavens.html
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bronze_ribbons: three daffodiles learning left (daffodils)
From the NYT obituary of Jonell Nash, longtime food editor of Essence:



Even when Ms. Nash would eat at her desk, another former colleague, Sharon R. Boone, recalled, she would first put down a china place setting and silverware on a small tablecloth. Taste matters, she explained in her cookbook.

"Even more than specific dishes or ingredients, soul food represents a certain spirit, an attitude, a flamboyance, a kind of loving that one brings to the kitchen and stirs into the pots," she wrote. "In essence, it's a flava."

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bronze_ribbons: (hooch boots)
Sifting through more papers and clippings -- an outline of my final exam for Anglo-Irish Literature with Francis X. Kinahan ("'Mkgnao'! Feeding The Kitty" -- "Q: What is the place of the household cat in Ulysses? A (condensed version): Cat functions as emblem of life, in part through the novel's web [of] associations of feline with feminine qualities"), notes made during music history with Philip Bohlman ("Schumann [Songs of Mignon] hard to perform nowadays -- 'unbelievably gorgeous, but utterly sexist'"), and Blake Bailey's 2010 NYT review of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters, which begins with this:

"Tonight while walking on the waterfront in the angelic streets I suddenly wanted to tell you how wonderful I think you are," Jack Kerouac began a typical letter to his friend Allen Ginsberg in 1950. "God's angels are ravishing and fooling me. I saw a whore and an old man in a lunch cart, and God--their faces! I wondered what God was up to."


While looking up the digital copy of Bailey's review, I came across an exhibit of Kerouac's fantasy baseball and horse-racing habit. Golly.
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bronze_ribbons: yoshizumi flying off cliff (yosh37 yoshizumi off cliff)
Ailey dancer Linda Celeste Sims, in the November 30 New York Times, by Gia Kourlas:


In rehearsals, Ms. Sims's intensity is the opposite of her playful offstage persona; you get the feeling that she could dance through a tornado. Her focus helps her stay open, she explained. "As dancers, we are selfish, we are insecure, we are sometimes a bit conceited, and that clogs your arteries," she said. "You clog yourself to the point where you can't breathe, and you can't bring life into anything."

Later, she added: "I was never a hater. I got a lot of hate, but you can't be a hater."

In her early days with the company, she faced jealousy from some of the other women. "But I'm from the Bronx," Ms. Sims said with a smile. "That means if you have a problem with me, that's your issue. I got a lot of that, but what I ended up doing was creating a shell: When I was at work, I was at work."
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bronze_ribbons: three daffodiles learning left (daffodils)
In his essay "Signs of the Times":


Covering our bodies is a lifelong preoccupation, a disguise that represents a revelation. Most people my age have inherited the duty of clearing out the closet of a parent, spouse, lover or friend. The coats. Suits. Smell. Shine. The stripes, pinks, paisleys. Shoes! How can shoes retain the shape of souls? But they do.


In the bit about him "Behind the T" (page 50 of the print magazine):


There was a kid at my gym I used to see who had the Mexican Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Guadalupe, on one of his thighs, and the head of Satan on the other. Whenever he would do squats, the two flew in opposite directions.
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bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (masha RG 09)
From "Calculated Seduction," Betty Fussell's 1998 review of MFK Fisher: A Life in Letters (New York Times Book Review):


We can see in the letters how the split in her desire to be fully a writer and fully a woman shaped her daily life and career. As a writer, she explained to [Lawrence Clark] Powell in 1947: ''I want to be good, but I also want children and love and stress and panic and in the end I am too tired to write with the nunlike ascetic self-denial and concentration it takes. If I live to be 50 . . . ah, that is my song . . . if I live to 50 I'll know how to write a good book.'' As decade followed decade, she changed the number but not the tune. At 55 she wrote, ''I have now raised the ante to the fairly imminent goal of SIXTY.''


Betty Fussell is herself the subject of a current NYT article, by Melissa Clark:


Betty Fussell, the 87-year-old food writer, never took the main road anywhere. If there was a beautiful, sensual, messy path, Betty took it, even if it meant getting lost along the way. Which is just what happened to me in that oak grove one morning last spring.

When I finally found my way out, I saw her, leaning on a walker. It had been years since we had last seen each other in New York, and I was struck by the change.

"Oh, did you fall?" I asked gently.

"You betcha I fell," she said. "I was coyote hunting in Montana with my son."
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bronze_ribbons: (hooch boots)
In light of last month's events (and the dour, dire expectations re England's performance before any of the matches), it was rather amusing to come across this statement in a NYT Book Review clipping from 1996: "England will probably never reach the World Cup final again." In light of the attention paid to Yorkshire (b/c of the start of that bike race that just ended), it was also entertaining to reread the opening of the review, titled "Yorkshire Terrors":


Yorkshire has an established and self-nurtured reputation as a place of heroic complaint. Nothing is ever quite so bad as it is in Yorkshire. The weather is worse, life is harder, the coal mines are deeper and darker and the scenery harsher, you will be told, than in other, softer lands.

Until, of course, someone unlucky enough to be born outside Yorkshire should dare to chime in to this litany of grievance, at which point the Yorkshire native will point out that the beer and cricket are better, the emotions richer, the history deeper, the women kinder and the men braver than anywhere else on earth. The sheer bloody awfulness of life is a badge of honor, to be worn with grim humor in the knowledge that while existence may be easier elsewhere, it could not be better.


- Ben Macintyre, March 31, 1996
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bronze_ribbons: snapshot of me in standing bow (DelPo on verge of oh smash)
In the July/August issue of the University of Chicago alumni magazine, there was this tidbit:


Max Liberles, AB '61, writes that he still plays tennis at least three times a week (doubles); hits the gym; walks in the Shell Point Retirement Community in Fort Myers, FL; ad works on that '63 Morgan. "I'm working on my cardiologist to let me make a singles comeback try soon, but this is an uphill climb."



I've resumed reading Paul Metzler's Advanced Tennis (rev. ed., Macmillan, 1972). What he says about self-consciousness and concentration applies to so much more than tennis, and maybe I'll quote some of that some other time. But what I bookmarked to blog some months ago was this:


Temper is not a match-winning attribute. Overcome it or you will be carrying a cancer about with you all your tennis days.

You may think you have a quick temper by nature and cannot really be blamed for your actions. If so, it is time you got things straight. Everyone has a temper, even the calmest-looking people. A so-called quick temper is in essence no more than an uncontrolled temper, and in tennis this is not an asset. . . .

People who lose their tempers on tennis courts generally seek to justify themselves in several ways. They explain that they are only wild with themselves, and that no offense is intended to anyone else. They usually say they could scarcely play if they didn't let off steam once in a while. Some add that they cannot get worked up into a winning mood if they have to smile pleasantly all the time.

Displays of temper do give offense to others. Spectators come to see tennis, not tantrums. . . .

You do not have to smile politely all over the place, and you shouldn't try to. It can make you feel like a fool and perhaps even look like one, and it tends to make your play timid and your concentration sloppy. If you are the type who likes to play a tight, taciturn game when really trying to win, by all means do so.
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bronze_ribbons: Kimiko Date Krumm fistpump @ Seoul 2009 (Kimiko fistpump)

Just to hit the ball is clearly a remarkable feat; to return it with consistency and accuracy is a mind-boggling achievement. Yet it is not uncommon. The truth is that everyone who inhabits a human body possesses a remarkable creation.

In the light of this, it seems inappropriate to call our bodies derogatory names. Self 2 [*] - that is, the physical body, including the brain, memory bank (conscious and unconscious), and the nervous system -- is a tremendously sophisticated and competent servant. Inherent within it is an inner intelligence which is staggering. What it doesn't already know, this inner intelligence learns with childlike ease. It uses billions of memory cells and neurological communication circuits. If modern man undertook to create an electronic memory of a capacity equal to the human one by using the most sophisticated computer parts yet devised, the finished product would be, according to a friend of mine who is a computer expert, larger than three Empire State Buildings. Furthermore, no coputer yet made is capable of doing the calculations and giving the necessary muscle orders involved in returning a fast serve in the time required.

The foregoing has only one purpose: to encourage the reader to respect his body. This amazing instrument is what we have the effrontery to call "a clumsy oaf."

-- W. Timothy Gallwey



[* Gallwey uses "Self 1" as a term for "ego-mind"; self-confidence requires harmony between Self 1 and Self 2.]
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bronze_ribbons: yoshizumi flying off cliff (yosh37 yoshizumi off cliff)
About Francis Sill Wickware's profile of Field in Life:

It was a superior example of snide journalism, and it affronted Field greatly. It also hurt him deeply. The misstatements of fact were perhaps to be expected, but the invention of conversations that had never taken place, or the casual quoting of previously invented conversations, was simply shoddy reporting. (236)

... Much of Field's anger at all this was the contained, glacial resentment of a gentleman who has been near-slandered; some of it was the helpless resentment of any honest man derided by cocky and inaccurate journalism; but some of it was the moral dismay of an idealist pouring more and more of his life to responsible publishing. As an honest publisher he must have felt lonely, betrayed, apprehensive: if a major magazine could do no better in something as unimportant (his modesty would have insisted) as a profile of Marshall Field, where could people turn for any sort of reliable interpretation of the people and events that were changing the world? Part of the answer -- and this he had known before -- was that the press as a whole had no interest in changing the world. Its weapons, from editorial polemics to gossip columns by way of slanted news, were at the service of a comfortable status quo (if not ante quo), and anything that happened anywhere was interpreted in the light of the assumption that traditional American prejudices were the highest possible flights of man's spirit. It was discouraging, to say the least, but it confirmed him in a resolve so simple and naive as to be almost embarassing: he would keep his own life, and his own publications, honest. Maybe it was all that a man could do; maybe it was the least a man could do; at any rate, he would do it. (238)

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