Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Cassoulet: The Right Way

​This is what I am having for dinner tonight. 

I’m at la Citrouille my favorite restaurant. 

Anywhere.

La Citrouille is in Paris.

Their cassoulet is so full of confit du canard it quacks. 




Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Apparently donnie Is Into Little Boys

 As near as I can tell the kid that came to dinner at donnie's the other day is about as serious a political thinker as most of the young women who keep trying to follow me on Instagram.

I assume that the main difference is that his profile is nowhere near as titillating as theirs.

He's 24 years old and offers a never-ending stream of inane hate to build his brand.

It's somewhere between classic teen-age influencer shit and a childish tantrum.

It's not bad enough that the (apparently) morons in the mainstream press rise to his bait and report on - including, and especially useful to him, his name - as if he were some kind of serious thinker.

What's really ridiculous though is that the only currently declared candidate for the 2024 presidential election thinks there is some there there.


Monday, November 28, 2022

China Fooled Us; Maybe The Chinese People Are Tired Of Being Fooled

 In 2000 the US House of Representatives voted to normalize trade relations with China.

That was de-facto endorsement of China joining the World Trade Association.

Removing all the barriers then in place to China becoming a major economic power was thought to be the secret sauce that would create an economic environment in which China would inevitably migrate to western style democratic norms.

Democracy follows in the path of Capitalist Prosperity, doesn't it?

23 years on, China is on the brink of being the largest economy in the world.

And the recently concluded Communist Party Congress which effectively extended Xi Jinping's dictatorship for life showed how misguided those hopes and beliefs had been.

The people have no say in what happens.

Xi Jinping has sole power in the land.

It turned out that China's plan for using the prosperity generated by WTO membership was that, if vast masses of Chinese citizens could be lifted out of poverty to middle class prosperity, they would do what they were told.

Not prosperity and incipient democracy.

The People have, until recently done what they are told.

If the multiple reports of serious anti-government, anti Xi Jinping demonstrations are to be believed it may be that the people are emerging with a different point of view.

Apparently they want to keep their prosperity and also acquire a say in how things are being run.

If true, we're in for some interesting times.

Witchhunt Tales: A Corollary Of A Corollary

 I think this was originally from The Guardian.

The Excerpt is from HuffPost, Story by Josephine Harvey.

Ex-Prosecutor: Trump's Latest Move A 'Sign Of Desperation' As Probes Intensify

It's about donnie's recent assertion that, since Special Prosecutor Jack Smith's wife has been active in the Democratic Party, Mr. Smith is invalidated in his prosecutorial role.

From the referenced HufPost post comes this observation from ex-prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner:

"He explained: “So Trump alleges that if the prosecutor’s spouse is a Democrat, well then the prosecutor cannot go after ... corrupt or criminal Republican politicians because of the prosecutor’s spouse’s politics. That’s absurd.”

“And think about the corollary,” he continued. “Well, if the prosecutor’s spouse is a Democrat, then the prosecutor shouldn’t be allowed to go after Democrats either, because presumably, because of the prosecutor spouse’s politics, the prosecutor would go easy on Democrats.

“So if you take Trump’s argument to its logical conclusion, if a prosecutor’s spouse is political in any way ... the prosecutor cannot prosecute anybody who’s a Republican or a Democrat.”

That causes me to conjure a corollary to this corollary:

The ancient, sacred and revered legal process of trial by jury ceases to be possible: no unbiased jurors can be found.

So we can add that to donnie's accomplishments: a ham handed, ignorant, and, regrettably, partially successful attempt to dismantle Pax Americana, the giving the go-ahead to Iran to return full tilt to its nuclear weapons program, letting Kim Jong-Un make a fool of him before the international community and instigating a coup d'état. 

Pretty impressive credentials, for residence on Devil's Island; I'm pretty sure the French would be happy to provide a billet.

Maybe that can be an agenda item when President Macron make his imminent state visit.

Monday, November 21, 2022

French Food Goes Just So Far

 And then you need to have some good ol' 'Merican food.



Salmon Berries

 Having been in Paris for 21 days now I would have expected to have clogged this blog with Paris images and witty observations.

Unfortunately, day one, after walking not very many miles - 4, my Paris normal is 6 to 8 - I came down with an unruly and very painful Achilles tendon.

I have no idea why.

The net result of trying to cure the thing is that I have not walked Paris and therefore not taken any pictures.

Except a few from Pont Neuf.

So when this beautiful picture of one of my favorite Pacific Northwest plants appeared on screen saver I immediately decided to use it for a blog post.

I think it's called salmonberry because when it's the color of this image it looks just like salmon eggs.

When it's ripe it's blacker like a blackberry.

In a dark wood with shafts of sunlight these salmon egg-colored spots of color make the walk worthwhile.



Saturday, November 19, 2022

Speaking Of Dark Age Reign Of Terror ...

 I brought a long book to read while I was in Paris.

I've been reading it in my down time here.

Late last night I was awake, so I watched a movie on my iPhone.

The book is Hilary Mantel's A Place of Greater Safety.

The movie was The Grapes of Wrath.

I saw the movie when I was quite young.

I read the book when I was substantially younger than I am now.

In both cases, the works were of great enough meaning and substantial enough quality, that they have always been on my "get back to someday" list.

So, on this trip I have gotten back to them.

I had either forgotten, or more likely totally missed, what both of these brilliant works are about.

And that's because, until 2016 and since, I had never seen certain things before.

Or they had been so buried in the trappings of what I have always thought of as "my life" that I had just missed them.

How utterly repetitive is history, and how utterly fragile are its fleeting improvements of human condition.





A Matter Of Tenths Of Points

 I've been as guilty as anyone.

Congratulating America on, generally, rejecting a new dark age reign of terror.

Americans didn't vote for very many MAGGOTS.

And even in the MAGGOT-Winner community, some may be shams to the cause.

J.D. Vance comes to mind.

He seems too intellectual and too smart to really buy that shit.

But we shall see.

That notwithstanding, more than a few did win.

And for the many that lost, they mostly only lost by fractions of percents.

So, "the rest of us" may be celebrating way too prematurely.



Friday, November 18, 2022

Traumatic Brain Injury: The MAGGOT Effect

 I have been listening to Meghna Chakrabarti - On Point, NPR, KUOW Seattle as I cooked and consumed my dinner here in Paris.

KUOW is a worldwide phenomenon, you know.

I had salmon grilled rare with mushrooms in butter and lime sauce with a mache and tomato salad.

It was good.

Back about 12 years ago I posted about the first time I ever cooked that concoction.

I was in Paris then also.

It was better then.

Appetite - it turns out - is one of the early things to go.

But I wanted to talk about Meghna's show.

It was about the apparent brain injury that results from "intimate partner violence and abuse".

You know, things like slamming her head into the wall, or throwing her of the porch, or strangling her, or punching her into unconsciousness (the victim-pronoun is feminine because men do this stuff, not women; women in those types of relationships don the mantle of guilt for not pleasing their man; the men, it seems need coddling to keep their fragile egos intact).

Meghna asked the authority who she had on point how many women might be wandering around out there with brain injury from partner choking and slamming.

The answer was, best guess from data extrapolation, 31 million.

That answer caused me to go from appalled to analytic.

Politically analytic.

On the assumption that most or all of those brain damaged women had a trump voting abuser - a logical assumption, given donnie's body of work and his recorded public statements - I did a little math.

31 million times two is 62 million.

74 million voted for donnie in 2020.

Now I know where all but 12 million of those votes came from.




Monday, November 14, 2022

Two Guys On The Seine

 Earlier today I went over to Pont Neuf and took some pictures.

I have a good enough telephoto that I was able to spy on a couple people.

I thought these images were worth sharing.




Saturday, November 12, 2022

Noel's Birthday Part Two

 Yesterday I posted a brief history of several Delta Airlines reservations.

It was a story of how malfeasance meets incompetence.

If you want to know more here is the link

The upshot of the post was that a birthday party in Paris for me that my family and I had planned for most of this year had come gradually become not doable, thanks to Delta Airlines.

Ann Claire and Joe just wouldn't give up.

Somehow they got here - Paris - at about 1500 today, Paris time.

We had a few-hour long cocktail and conversation time in my apartment and then we went to Nagano Sushi on rue Mazarine - I highly recommend it if you are ever in Paris - and finished up the day with a fabulous dinner and equally fabulous service.

Tomorrow we are going to have my birthday dinner at la Citrouille.

Here is a picture from the apartment this afternoon.



Ann Claire And Joe En Route



 For those of you who have been following this saga, here is their flight status as of ten minutes or so ago.


Friday, November 11, 2022

Delta: A Farce Masquerading As An Airline

 Back in February 2022 it began to look as if international travel might be possible again after two years of pandemic shutdown.

That was good I thought.

That was good my wife thought.

That was good my daughter thought.

That was good my daughter-in-law and son thought.

Good, we all thought, because, for 20 or so years, until 2020 and 2021 - pandemic years - I had almost always spent at least a month in Paris, maybe more, but November for sure - 13 November being my birthday - and I wanted to re-commence that tradition, and the others of my family here mentioned, wanted to join with me on this my 80th birthday year.

They had been with me for that day in 2012 for 70 and they wanted to be there for the tenth anniversary of that fun occasion.

So, Delta airline reservations were made.

(My wife, daughter and I have a vestigial relationship with Delta from the IBM eighties, when Delta was not only the best airline, it was also a company worth working for).

My daughter and my wife made reservations on Delta: RDU to CDG, non-stop (our daughter lives in North Carolina and it seemed fun for my wife and our daughter to fly together).

To that end, I made a reservation for my wife: SEA to RDU non-stop, round trip, First Class.

My son and daughter in law made reservations on Delta appropriate to their circumstances as residents of the great state of Tennessee.

And we all sat back and savored the thought of our reunion in Paris in November and my birthday.

**********************************************************

It took a while for things to begin to unravel.

My wife and daughter were first.

They got a courteous email from Delta telling them that their non-stop to Paris had been changed to a two-flight connection and that the flight from RDU would arrive at the connection after their connecting flight had departed.

"We apologize for any inconvenience this might incur" Delta added with empathy.

At that point they - my wife and my daughter - decided that they had enough time to think about this and, more importantly, to figure out how one contacts Delta to fix such an obvious aberration, so they put in abeyance any action on the problem; who knew if you swatted that fly right away a new fly would probably replace it.

Delta still had their best people working for us: not too long after getting the "you're stranded in Boston" email my wife got an email saying she no longer had a non-stop reservation to and from Raleigh; she was going to experience the not at all non-stop pleasure of being routed on her return link to Seattle through Detroit on her way home.

After not too long my wife and daughter drew the obvious conclusion: there was no way in hell that they were going to Paris in November 2022.

We were all disappointed, but life goes on, until it doesn't, I guess.

The time, probably money, and irritation involved with unscrambling that Delta mess just weren't warranted.

That left my son and daughter in law with their Delta travel arrangements.

 I'm writing this instead of being at la Citrouille for dinner with Joe and Ann Claire tonight (we were planning a dress rehearsal for the 13th); they have been living in an airport bar in Boston for the last 24 hours, courtesy of the Delta extended-obfuscation-to-ultimate-cancellation gambit.

The final Delta Air Travel bricks of the Noel's birthday in Paris edifice began to turn to dust about 18 hours ago.

Joe texted me that their 4 hour layover had become a 7.5 hour layover.

The texts continued; the delays mounted; the repair part was on a plane to arrive at ...

Anyone who has ever flown knew at the outset of those delays what the final result would be.

Of course, Delta knew; they are in the business; they invented the rules of the game; and those rules specify that it is required to obfuscate until you summarily cancel.

Delta cancelled about 0400 Paris time.

Interminable lines queuing in front of unoccupied Delta "Service" Desks, and smart-phone-battery- draining waits on Delta customer service phone numbers ensued.  

The population of Boston temporarily grew by one Delta plane load.

And I'm writing this instead of enjoying a dinner at la Citrouille with the more travel persistent members of my family.

The good news is Hotels.com has their best people working on getting an exception to the no re-fund rule of the hotel across the street where I made reservations for Joe and Ann Claire and had to cancel because there be no Ann Claire and Joe.

I Wish Mitt Success With This

© Provided by Washington Examiner

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) is asking the Republican Party to focus on helping the public instead of pursuing "pointless investigations."

Romney calls for the GOP to take the road 'less travelled by' should it control Congress

Romney calls for the GOP to take the road 'less travelled by' should it control Congress

The nation is still awaiting the results of several races of the 2022 midterm elections, which will determine which party will control the House and the Senate. The GOP ought to work with the opposing party to fix issues affecting people in the United States, including inflation and climate change, the Utah senator wrote in an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal.

"Robert Frost and politics don’t really mix, but his famous allegory is apt: Two roads diverge before this potential GOP majority," Romney wrote. "The one 'less travelled by' would be to pass bills that would make things better for the American people. The more tempting and historically more frequented road would be to pursue pointless investigations, messaging bills, threats and government shutdowns. The road we choose could make 'all the difference.'"

Romney noted how exit polls stated that "inflation remains a top voter concern" and to address this, Congress needs to work on changes to "revenues, benefits and eligibility" without getting rid of any programs and without affecting near-retirees.

For climate change, the senator recommended working on reducing global emissions through funding technology research that can be used across the world and "slapping penalties on imports from prolific emitters."

****************************************************************

One of my dominant feelings during the 2012 presidential election was that Mitt Romney was a sad example of a decent Tom McCall/Mark Hatfield Republican trapped by the post 2010 Nutcase Rebellion - "take our country back".  

Apparently, he is fully out of that trap. 

He showed signs of being out of that trap when he voted trump "guilty". 

I hope there are enough like him in the ghost remnants of the GOP and the best of the current Democratic Party to come together and really take our country back.  

I further hope that this is the real beginning of the end to our long national nightmare - I had thought the election of 2020, at the time, had done that - ended the nightmare; but no; the rabbit kept boiling in the pot, and donnie has kept popping up out of that bathtub.

Maybe Mitt has shown the entrance to the path back.

I really hope so.


Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Vive La Résistance

 After all of the gnashing of teeth, including mine - see my recent post of a Bill Maher video (with editorial comment, of course) - about the inevitable doom that would be subsequent to Mid-Terms 2022 it looks as if the American People have again done the unlikely.

As it seems to have turned out, my editorial comment that the then imminent election was "frozen in amber" was just plug wrong.

Yes, that asshole Ron Johnson has won again his seat in the Senate.

But what can one expect?

Assholes like McConnel, Cruz, and Rubio need company to contribute to their Constitutional function of balance of power.

republicans call it sphincter co-ordination.

All that notwithstanding, there seems to be emerging a really hopeful sign of life in what had been assumed to be a moribund body politic.

The republicans have only a few victories to crow about.

And those were known slam dunks.

So what seems to be unfolding as we count the votes?

What is unfolding is that there are more Americans out there than there are MAGGOTS.

You can't get the results that we seem to be getting without there being a lot more than an enthusiastic wave of Democrats.

Unlikely as it seemed a few days ago, the AMERICAN PEOPLE have spoken.

And they aren't MAGGOTS.






Hubris In The Valley

 Billions upon billions upon billions of billions.

Of dollars.

Various apparently brilliant tech knowledgeable individuals have spawned trillions of dollars in the last few years.

A lot of those dollars have, of course, been spent on fun stuff like yachts so big that the yacht needs a yacht for its dingy.

Or putting electric vehicles in orbit.

Fun stuff like that.

But some of those dollars must have been being spent on giving the world its various next big things.

Tell me that's true.

I need to think that to be the case as I look at all the things that Americans - forget the human race - can't have because there just isn't the money: health care, elder care, quality pre-school, pensions, housing.

There are probably a lot more.

I just can't think of them right now.

So, on the optimistic assumption that at least some of those trillions of dollars of financial fluff sloughed off the products and services have been and are being spent on paying people to bring into reality the essential goods and services that the human race hasn't yet identified as such - essential to their well-being and happiness - I get real nervous when I see one of those apparently brilliant tech knowledgeable individuals waking up one morning and firing 11,000 of his minions deployed in the creation of those goods and services.

If the 11,000 can all be eliminated in a quick text one November morning, is it because the goods and services to which they have been deployed are not so essential?

Are they in fact delusions of their tech knowledgeable master?

And is it true that all those dollars that could have been deployed to the betterment of the human condition have instead been pissed away on the metaverse?

And does that leave 11,000 decent people out on the tangible - not meta - street as the holidays loom?

Saturday, November 5, 2022

From Bernie: Counterpoint To Bill Maher

 At least it is counterpoint in the sense that Bernie seems to think that we have now a functioning government and that, election 2022 notwithstanding, we will have one in 2023 and beyond; all we need to do is vote the right people.

Since the wrong people being elected in 2022 seems to be most likely, Bernie must believe that there is a life for Democracy after 2022.

And, based on that belief he has some observations about our immediate present and what we might do to improve our near and long term future.

He's asking a great deal of us, but it can be boiled down to one imperative sentence: Learn the system; take on the system; give a shit - and vote.

He posted this on the Fox website of all places.

It's long, but well worth reading.

****************************************************

"Corporate greed is at a 70-year high and oil companies are buying back stock, not lowering prices

By Sen. Bernie Sanders

As we enter the final week of the midterm election, voters are expressing deep concern about the state of the economy and inflation. They should.

 Today, we live in an economy in which the billionaires are getting much richer while working families fall further behind. Unbelievably, while 60 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, we now have more income and wealth inequality than we have ever had in the history of our country – with three multi-billionaires owning more wealth than the bottom half of Americans. While employers squeeze workers and their unions for cuts to health care and other benefits, the CEOs of major corporations now make nearly 400 times more than their average employees – the largest employer-worker gap in our history.

 During this campaign, my Republican colleagues talk a lot about inflation, and they are right to do so. Over the last year, Americans have become sick and tired of paying outrageously high prices for food, gas, health care, prescription drugs, housing and other necessities.

 Unfortunately, most Republicans completely ignore the underlying causes of inflation and the few "solutions" they do offer would make a bad situation even worse.

 Yes. During this political season it is easy to blame President Joe Biden and Democrats for inflation. But that’s just not accurate.

 Let’s be clear. Inflation is not unique to America. It is an international crisis. In the European Union, inflation is nearly 11 percent. In Germany, it is 11.6 percent. In the United Kingdom it is 10.1 percent. In Ireland, it’s 9.6 percent. In America, it’s 8.2 percent, much too high, but lower than it is throughout much of Europe.

 The truth is that inflation is, to a significant extent, caused by the ongoing global pandemic, the break in international supply chains and the horrific war in Ukraine. But there is another major reason for inflation that too few people talk about. And that is the unprecedented level of corporate greed that we are now seeing.

 According to a recent study, nearly 54 percent of the rise in inflation is directly attributable to the astronomical increase in corporate profit margins. In America today, while the working class struggles to put food on the table, fill up their gas tanks and heat their homes, corporate profits are at a 70-year high.

 If you want to know why you are paying $4, $5, $6 for a gallon of gas, you should know that the profits of ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP and Shell skyrocketed by 169 percent so far this year to $125 billion. These four huge oil companies are spending over $73 billion not to reduce gas prices at the pump but to buy back their own stock and increase dividends to their wealthy stockholders.

 If you are wondering why you are paying 43 percent more for an airline ticket this year, you should know that profits are up 186 percent at American Airlines and 99 percent at United Airlines in the third quarter to nearly $1.5 billion. Yes. These are the same companies that received taxpayer assistance of more than $20 billion during the pandemic while cutting 6,400 jobs.

 If you are wondering why global food prices skyrocketed by over 33 percent last year and are expected to go up another 23 percent this year, you should know that billionaires in the global food and agri-business industry became $382 billion richer during the pandemic.

 If you are wondering why we continue to pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, you should know that Pfizer has increased its profits by 42 percent so far this year to $26.4 billion.

 Even though inflation is an international problem, my Republican colleagues want to blame rising prices on Democratic spending – especially the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed in March 2021. Well, before you accept that argument, I urge you to remember where we were at that terrible and painful moment in American history.

 As the worst pandemic in modern history raged across the country, over 3,000 Americans were dying from COVID-19 every single day and millions, including many with inadequate health insurance, were getting sick. Doctors and nurses lacked adequate personal protective equipment and many hospitals, flooded with COVID-19 patients, were on the verge of collapse.

 Further, as a result of the pandemic, in early 2021 the United States was suffering its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Twenty-four million Americans were unemployed, under-employed or had given up looking for work. Hunger in America was at its highest level in decades. Millions of Americans were in danger of being evicted from their homes. Hundreds of thousands of small businesses all over the country were on the verge of going bankrupt.

 As the chairman of the Budget Committee, I apologize to no one for helping to pass this bill in the Senate – without one Republican vote. At a time of an unprecedented health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan did exactly what a democratic government in a civilized society is supposed to do: respond to the needs of people living in fear and desperation.

 I apologize to no one that we provided every working class American and their children with a $1,400 direct payment to get them through the economic crisis they were experiencing.

 I apologize to no one that we extended unemployment benefits and provided an extra $300 a week to Americans who had lost their jobs.

 I apologize to no one that we expanded the Child Tax Credit that provided $300 a month per child to working families so that parents could raise their kids with a modicum of security.

 I apologize to no one that we prevented hospitals from closing their doors during the pandemic, fed the hungry, prevented evictions and foreclosures and made sure every American could receive a COVID-19 vaccine for free.

While Republicans continue to criticize the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that helped struggling working class families in a time of economic desperation, it is fair to ask what they are proposing to do if they gain control over the House and the Senate? And here’s the answer.

 Almost all of them, from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell on down, want to provide billionaires a tax break worth up to $1.75 trillion by completely repealing the estate tax.

 The estate tax only applies to the wealthiest of the wealthy, the top one-tenth of one percent of American families who inherit over $25 million. In other words, 99.9% of Americans would not benefit at all from the repeal of the estate tax.

 If the estate tax was repealed, Elon Musk’s family would receive a tax break of up to $80 billion alone. Now, I don’t know who Musk’s kids are and I have nothing against them. I wish them well. But they don’t deserve a tax break of up to $83 billion.

 How would Republicans pay for this $1.75 trillion tax break to billionaires? They would pay for it by making massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. This year, the 158-member Republican Study Committee in the House proposed cutting Medicare by $2.8 trillion and Social Security by $729 billion. An increasing number of Republicans have even threatened to default on our nation’s debt unless they are able to enact cuts to Social Security and Medicare. How absurd is that?

 No. You don’t reduce inflation by giving tax breaks to billionaires and cutting benefits for the elderly, the sick, the children and the poor.

 You combat inflation by taking on corporate greed and passing a windfall profits tax. You combat inflation by taking on the power of the insurance companies, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry, the giant food companies and lowering the outrageously high costs of healthcare, prescription drugs, gas and groceries.

 As the longest serving Independent in congressional history, I’m not going to tell you that Democrats are perfect. Far from it. In a Senate evenly divided 50-50, there are at least two Democrats who have made it clear that they are more interested in protecting corporate interests than the needs of working-class families. That has got to change.

 Right now, more than any time in modern history, we need a Congress that has the courage to take on the wealthy campaign contributors, super-PACs, and lobbyists who work overtime in protecting the interests of billionaires and corporate interests. And that is precisely what Democrats must do if they expand their majority in the House and the Senate.


Bill Maher Gets Too Many Things Right

 Like describing the outlines of the trump plan to stay in office, no matter what the voters might say, long before election 2020. 

That fact makes me very worried about his observations about our imminent election.

They are especially worrisome because they are in line with the only conclusions that I have been able to draw about our future since November 2020. 

And remember, with the exception of a few undecided non-fascist leaning potential voters who may be stirred to vote between now and election day, this election is already frozen in amber.




Friday, November 4, 2022

First Post From Paris - This Trip

 A couple of evenings ago I found myself with an hour to fill before I went to la Citrouille for dinner.

Americans all hit the restaurants beginning at 1730 or so and are finished and gone by 1900 or so.

The local Parisians start filtering in about 2030 or so.

I like to slide in in the gap between 1900 and 2030, like 1945.

So, I get there ahead of the Parisians, but I'll be there for quite a while after they have come, and I can enjoy listening to them and watching them.

Maybe even, if I get lucky, I can strike up a conversation or two.

I'd much rather talk to a Parisian than a trump voter from Idaho Falls.

Therefore, there is often a pre-dinner time buffer needing filling with some activity or other; I usually choose a leisurely glass of wine.

Such was the case on the evening referenced.

I decided that I would go to The Mazarine; it's just a few paces from the entrance to my building and I always feel at home there.

The last few days I have been missing things: twice I have asked for a wine glass when one was sitting in front of me; I have no idea what that means, but it's probably not good.

That apparently happened in my pre-dinner stop for a glass of wine.

As I was leaving the place, I noticed that The Mazarine is next door.

I'm glad of that miscue, though.

I really like the place I was actually in, and I probably never would have gone into it except due to my recent habit of not seeing things.

The place is the total opposite of fancy. 

I suspect that there is a new genre: upscale trashy. 

It features a place that is quite old, quite clean, but beaten up. 

The clientele range from people who look like me, to my Parisian equivalent, to young people, young couples, old couples, mid age couples and one guy who bought in an eighteen-month-old enfant, planted l’enfant on the bar - until the bartender picked him up and cuddled him - they talked, the guy and the bartender, and then the guy took his kid and departed. 

My kind of place. 




Saturday, October 29, 2022

Hotel Metropol - Moscow

 I never would have thought that I would ever have wanted to go to Moscow.

But after finishing last night A Gentleman in Moscow I want to go there and stay in the Metropol.

It's too bad that I have said so many things critical of Putin the Diminished.

If not for that I would be looking for train tickets from Paris to Moscow.

Since I will be in Paris for the next 30 days, why not just add a month and thousands of miles?

I love train travel.

But Novichok on the doorknob is distasteful tourist attraction. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

Follow On To My Initial Reaction To "A Gentleman In Moscow"

 Recently I posted a post about this book.

I tried to put it into the context of what I knew and what I had read so far to that point and what I had thought about those things.

And I tried to compare it to three other authors whose works are of high importance to me.

I had never heard of Amor Towel.

In fact, I was reading the book because my sister had said I should read it had and loaned her copy to me so I could.

Read it.

So now I have.

Read it.

And now that hopelessly vast deep and wide feeling of sad loss that always accompanies the completion of a really great book - now it's done, now it's gone - has beset me.

However.

In this case I have immediately gone into denial mode.

I have created a silver lining.

This email to my sister documents that state of denial and silver lining that I have created.

"I will never be able to thank you enough for loaning it to me. Let’s have lunch after I get back so I can return it. It screams to be a trilogy. I don’t think he could get it done with only a second book. I vote for George Clooney to play the Count in the movie - if the makeup folk can handle the 30 year old segment."




Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Munich And Peace In Our Times - Again

 History doesn't repeat itself we are told.

We are told that constantly.

And we are told that because that is generally true.

I was appalled, horrified and shocked by yesterday's withdrawn letter to President Biden from the US House of Representatives Progressive Caucus instructing the President to enter into negotiations with Putin for the termination of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.

That Caucus - that 30-member group of Democrats, my party of choice - became in one day of infamy, united forever with Neville Chamberlain, a well-intentioned British Prime Minister who gave the last card in a temporarily winning hand to Adolph Hitler.

At Munich.

"Peace in our times" the banner he unfurled.

Then Hitler invaded Poland.

Then he took France in a couple of days.

Then he ...

Then we ... almost lost Western Civilization.

After he had lost his final turn at the table 'dolphie ended his life with a Luger and, along with his - whatever she was - female accomplice, was burned in gasoline down to only his jawbone that sycophants, few though they continued to be, put in a box for posterity.

We have never heard if Eva had any bones in the charred mix.

The lives lost and treasure wasted on that ultimate result - a charred jawbone in a box - was hardly worth that result; and that result was occasioned because Chamberlain thought appeasement made any sense.

History doesn't repeat itself we are told.

But if President Joe had taken that letter seriously it would have.

Repeated itself.

And what gave Pramila Jayapal the idea that that letter, and its Munich-based message, was a thing that America, or the World ought to sign on to?

In a slice of time in which I really believe that America as it has been for 240 years - a Washingtonian-Peaceful-Transfer-of-Power sort of country is dying, I can't even begin to say how disheartening is that Progressive Caucus letter.

Having seen how they really think, I have no one to respect as bearers of the banner of America anymore.

And what gave them the idea that Joe Biden could negotiate en lieu of Ukraine's President, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy?

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

The Ephemeral, Vaporous Black Caped Beings Are Back

 Remember in the movie Ghost?

Right after Carl has met his end by being impaled by a massive falling shard of window glass?

Remember, then an entity, apparently Carl's spirit was beset and gathered up in the arms of a hoard of ephemeral, vaporous black-caped beings that had risen out of the sewers?

It turns out that the movie had a lot of foresight.

Maricopa County republicans have unleashed their cadre of ephemeral, vaporous camo-clad beings to accost the practicing voters of the greater Phoenix area.

Carl was kind of a bad guy; the voters of Maricopa County are mostly good guys just trying to exercise their citizens' right to vote.

But republicans really don't want that shit going on around there in their county. 

So they have deployed their goons.



Sunday, October 23, 2022

A Book That I Am Reading

 A Gentleman in Moscow.

By Amor Towles.

Before I say anything about that I - to make whatever it is that I may say about this book be in some sort of context, a context that is important to me if not anyone else - I need to talk briefly about the book I had just finished before I started reading A Gentleman in Moscow.

That book that I had just finished was East and West.

By Sommerset Maugham. 

That was a thousand-page tome consisting of 30 short stories by the author,

The first four or five stories were OK, pretty good, but not up to Of Human Bondage, not even remotely.

Or so I thought as I read them.

They were all set in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness place: Borneo or Singapore or Malaysia or maybe even Indonesia; I don't really know, and I'm of a sort that I really don't care.

A year in Saigon was all I had in me for that sort of thing; I wondered why Maugham was subjecting me to fairly banal stories set in a place that I would prefer to forget.

I did notice however that each story seemed to point forward - a thing I could only know by reading the next story - and backward, a phenomenon that I am not brain-dead enough - yet - to have missed.

Then there was a loud literary clang.

About story six Maugham returned to his home field - England - and began unleashing his mild, entertaining and utterly beguiling invective about the British system.

Those stories were page turners.

And they all pointed forward, and pointed backward, and just made lines in the sand for their very transient existence; a plot was unfolding.

Which was when he switched to spy stories.

I can't find the words to describe how entertaining those stories were; I didn't want them to end; but they did end; he started writing mysteries; they were so fun that I forgot about how much I had wished the spy stories to continue.

And then he finished it off with a bunch of fairly bitter little tales, all of which pointed forward, and pointed backward, to the final words: THE END.

I had just read a novel that was built out of short stories.

I was dazzled.

But not surprised.

Maugham is the last of a set of writers that for some reason are perfect writers for me.

Trollope was the first.

I possess and have read - some more than once - about twenty of his sixty or so novels; I love them all.

Sometime after discovering Trollope, I started reading Thomas Hardy - Jude the Obscure - and I wandered off on that track for another pile of books (I am fairly convinced that The Belton Estate by Trollope is Hardy's inspiration for Far from the Madding Crowd) that I have in my larder, all about furze, mist, heather, and heaths and dark clouds and dark things happening to humans and cows.

Fairly quickly I realized that Hardy was telling tales parallel, if not identical, to the tales that Trollope was telling.

Just some years later.

And then I discovered Maugham.

In desperation for my next book a few years ago I picked Of Human Bondage off the bookshelf in the jumble of disparate things that we have dubbed "the office" on Lopez Island and started to read.

Same tales, clock moved forward.

I have only also read Cakes and Ale.

But when I can get back to Powell's, I will fix that paucity of inventory.

To have one of those tales told via the vehicle of a thousand-page collection of short stories.

What can I say?

Genius, I guess.

But back to A Gentleman in Moscow.

Towles, as far as I can tell after 75 pages is not a writer.

He is a magic painter who, with frighteningly few verbal brush stokes, tells tales present, points to tales past, and presages tales future.

I have never had so much fun reading a book.

He may be the fourth in my personal pantheon: Trollope, Hardy, Maugham - and now - Towles.

Britain: One Down, Unknown Number To Go

 Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has removed himself from consideration for being Liz Truss' replacement as Prime Minister, the office that Liz Truss assumed after Boris resigned it earlier this season.


That having occurred hours ago, there is a new groundswell of conjecture that Boris may be un-removing himself from consideration after learning that his previous supporters have all moved their current support to the now seriously contending head of lettuce.

"I'll be damned if I will concede the legendary office of British Prime Minister to an un-made salad" the recent ex has been saying, giving more gravity to his reputation for sublime wordsmithmanship and - apparently - his desire to re-join the fray after hours only off the pitch.



Britain: The Candidates Gather

 With the head of lettuce having outlasted Liz, the major contenders for her replacement have begun their campaigns.

Boris is in the mix, but it's hard to really figure who is who.


It should be noted: the head of lettuce is rising fast in the polls.





Saturday, October 22, 2022

What Did You Do In the War, Daddy?

I described this in Screen Saver; this is what is left of a rather large lake that manifested itself during the monsoon; I saw this on my first day is Saigon; I took the picture on almost my last.

 


Saigon had great bread; there were some tooth-breaking snail shells in it on occasion, but it was so good that i just didn't care; I was young and really wasn't sure why I needed to have teeth; Adrian Gobel made amazing sloppy joe sandwiches with these baguettes as base; I have never forgotten them. 


This was how the Generals' cars were kept dust free.


I named him Frank.  There is a section in Screen Saver about him.  The Smothers Brothers had a character called Frank the Hiking Chicken.  That's how Frank got his name.


Don't be misled by the beautiful blue; that is just a reflection of the sky on tar-like liquid masquerading as water. 



Saigon fast food.

They were my neighbors; I have always wondered what must have happened to them.


I guess this set the stage for my latter-day love of French markets.


This is a picture from the roof of the building I lived in for a year; it is also the cover of my mini-memoir, Saigon 1967.

I've always felt kindred to fishermen.


Ao Dai means, I was told, "long shirt".


I don't want to talk about the chickens.


Maybe my parrot fascination started here; this market had all sorts of other creatures for sale.


Street scene 1967


Hard to get telephoto on target in time to get what it is that's hurtling by; it's a lot like trying to get a picture of a great blue heron landing on the tombolo on Lopez Island.


My friend again


Not quite rue de Rivoli, but close


We always had cucumbers and sliced onions in vinegar in the officer's clubs' salad bars; I ate a lot of cucumbers that year.  They had really big seeds - something to spit into the nether regions of the dining room.


So French


Somehow this always puts me into the middle of Good Morning Vietnam.