Category Archives: High Signs

Resistance Playlist

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I haven’t been around for a while. The constant vigilance thing has been keeping me busy. Frankly, I’m getting worn out, keeping my beady little eye trained on D.C. Still this week, we’ve got James Comey’s testimony to look forward to, and based on how that goes, I’ll take a news break, or not.

A pattern is emerging. Gaffes, mishaps, the occasional disaster just before the weekend, followed by a weekend of speculation, most Mondays and Tuesdays see lots of calls for “impeachment”, which, I have to tell you, unfortunately does not = removal from office, Wednesday starts the spin cycle at both ends of the spectrum accompanied by tweetstorms, Thursday more spin and the occasional shred of hope that this debacle of a presidency will soon be behind us, and by Friday early in the morning our time, I’m waiting in trepidation for the next s**tstorm. Oh the humanity!

It is a weird situation being an ex-pat in these times. My contributions to The Resistance are token at best: subscriptions, memberships, making the occasional astute comment on the newsfeeds, trying to reassure the Europeans that not all Americans are MAGAmorons and climate change deniers. I lived through the Civil Rights Movement and Watergate so I know a bit of which I speak. From where I am standing, it seems like the U.S. is at war with itself again and all an ex-pat can do is watch in horror as things unfold. Keep Calm and Carry On and all that. When that doesn’t work, there’s always primal screaming or lifting heavy at the Box. On that note, I’ve made a few PR’s the past weeks.

Today I thought I’d do something constructive. I made a Resistance Playlist to cheer myself up when the news gets me down. Here are a few selections:

First up is Mel & Tim’s “Yes We Can-Can” . Just because President Obama is out of office doesn’t mean we should forget this message. We are Americans. We got this.We’ll come out stronger in the end.

“Work to Do” by the incredible Isley Bros. We’ve got so much work to do. Well said, LeBron.

“No Mercy” Racoon’s a Dutch band and well worth a listen. Show no mercy, make no apologies, take no prisoners. The current administration is not made up of nice people.

An oldie, but a goodie from my misspent youth: Elvis Costello’s “Oliver’s Army” Check out the Wiki(icky), then the choice will make sense.

Next up is “Something in the Air” from the fabulously named Thunderclap Newman. We have got to get it together RIGHT NOW.

Another, final selection worth sharing is “I’ll Take You There” with mighty Mavis Staples on vocals. Gotta spread a little love on the resistance.

Ok, brothers and sisters, that’s a few from my playlist. What’s on yours?

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Sweet Sensation

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Sweet Sensation

So our family has been in the throes of major lifestyle change for the past half-year, training at least 2x per week, less wine and lots more healthy food. Strolling through the fruit and veg section I saw these beauties and I couldn’t resist– with a name like Sweet Sensation, what’s not to love?

I’m a Rude Girl from way back.

The Cousins Dinner February 2013 Edition

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My husband comes from a large family, rich in cousins. About three or four times a year, we get together with Vincent’s brother and his family and (our favorite cousins) Cousin Wessel and his family for a gastronomic experience. What started out as a fun evening of wine and cheese tasting for 6 adults 20 years ago has turned into a quarterly feast for 14 – 16 people, counting offspring and boyfriends/girlfriends.

In the early days we would choose a wine region and base the menu around the wine. These days the food takes precedence and we’ve been choosing “themes” rather than holding everyone to strictly cooking from a particular cuisine. The hosts pick the theme and do the main course. The other two couples either make the appetizer or dessert, and if the offspring are so inclined, they might make an amuse or some kind of canapés. We’ve had themes ranging from “Healthy Spring” to “Fish Fantasy” to yesterday’s theme: “Great Train Journeys”.

There were so many ways to go with this one. Since it was our turn to host, we focused on the countries with famous trains. Vincent was for the “California Zephyr”, but a lot of the ingredients we needed weren’t really appropriate for the season, ditto “The City of New Orleans”. “The Flying Scotsman” offered possibilities for all kinds of salmon dishes, but we were kind of bored with salmon. In the end, we choose the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Mettupalaiyam to Ooty in Tamil Nadu. Vincent cooked Indian.

Menu

Appetizer

 

The Blue Train (South Africa)

Tiliapiapaté with Smoked Trout

garnished with red caviaar and cucumber ribbons

Wine: Montagny Premier Cru

Main Course

The Nilgiri Mountain Railway (India)

Moghul-chicken korma

and

Chingri Malai Kari (shrimp curry)

served with Basmati Rice

Naán

Vatana Usal

(stirfried peas with caraway and coconut)

Curried Cauliflower

Wine: Schloss Halburturn Impérial

Dessert

 

The Orient Express

A grand dessert experience taking you from Paris to Istanbul

including

Burgundy Granita (Paris)

Sacher Torte (Vienna)

Kolache (Prague)

Baklava (Istanbul)

Wine: Strangely enough, a cold Brunello and it was delicious

Joe College played piano,

we listened to some vintage vinyl,

 

We talked and laughed a lot and made plans for the first BBQ on the 9th of May. I hope the weather changes by then.

Our favorite dinner music

* Crossposted from my primary blog:

http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-cousins-dinner-february-2013-edition#.USo11TCyCwU

** All photos are my own

Smuttling

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If you haven’t read Din Mutha’s latest (excellent) post, go back and do so now, otherwise my post will make no sense at all to you.

http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/smuttling-a-call-to-readers

Ah, smuttling. I never knew it had a name. And a request to smuttle, my day is perfect now.

So I walked to my bookshelves and pulled a few books down, not exactly at random, but I knew these books would have my smuttles marked with either a playing card, a sticky note, bent page corners and (God forgive me) passages underlined in ink and with notes in the margin.

Starting with the poetry, first a little “Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot. I like this poem more and more the older I get. Prof. Camp assured me that I would, though I didn’t believe him at the time. I came around to Eliot, like many, through the musical “Cats”, which got me to reading “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats”, which led me, in time, back to Prufrock. The line that I find myself repeating, rolling it in my mouth like a delicious olive is:

In the room the women come and go

Talking of Michelangelo.”

I just like the way it feels to say this.

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My second poetic smuttle is from “Howl” by Allen Ginsberg. This line reminds me of the Our Salon bunch:

…angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection

to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night…”

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The last smuttle of the poetry section is entirely the fault of Man Talk Now, who got me to reading Nizar Qabbani, the Syrian poet and diplomat. MTN wrote in his OS blog about being sent a mysterious postcard with an excerpt from one of Qabbani’s poems written in Arabic, maybe he’ll repost it here.

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Because I love you

the New Year greets us

with the stride of a king

and because of that love

I carry a special permit from God

to wander among the myriad stars.”

 Qabbani blesses lovers with special privileges, to wander among the myriad stars, to give each other a gift of the moon and breaking dawn. Reading his poetry should be done as you would eat fine chocolate; in very small bites and slowly.

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The next bunch of smuttles is from a selection of my favorite books. I am a literature magpie. Not indiscriminate, exactly, but willing to try new things to read and I read a lot.

One of the first science fiction authors I was exposed to is Ray Bradbury. He’s not “scientific” enough for a lot of hardcore scifi readers, but he was most definitely a master story teller and the world is an emptier place without his magic.

I first read “The Martian Chronicles” in 7th grade. It must have been 1977. The particular section of the book, August 2002: A Night Meeting has stayed with me ever since:

“Thomás raised his hand and thought Hello! Automatically but did not move his lips for this was a Martian…his weapon had alway been his smile. He did not carry a gun. And he did not feel the need of one now.”

It was my introduction to the idea of a parallel universe.

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The next choice is from William Faulkner’s masterpiece, “The Sound and The Fury”. I came to Faulkner via Tennesee Williams and P.G. Wodehouse. He is another one of those authors only to be taken in small but regular amounts.

My favorite lines form TS & TF are in the first chapter, when we meet Caddy”

Caddy was walking. Then she was running, her book-satchel swinging and jouncing behind her.

Hello, Benjy.” Caddy said. She openend the gate and came in and stooped down. Caddy smelled like leaves. “Did you come to meet me.” she said. “Did you come to meet Caddy. What did you let him get his hands so cold for, Versh.

I told him to keep them in his pockets.” Versh said. “Holding on to that ahun gate.”

Did you come to meet Caddy,” she said, rubbing my hands. “What is it. What are you trying to tell Caddy.” Caddy smelled like trees and like when she says we were asleep.

With no physical description whatsoever, you know what Caddy’s about and what she looks like. This is where I’ve set the bar for my own writing.

From the musical cadence of the language of the deep South, the next smuttle shifts to the elision of bad side of Dublin, Barrytown.

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In his novel, “The Comittments”, the first book of his Barrytown trilogy Roddy Doyle introduces us to the amazing Rabitte family. There are a lot of Rabittes, their surname a joke not lost on this lapsed Catholic, but Jimmy takes center stage in “The Comittments” (also a film with a mondo soundtrack). Jimmy’s getting a band together. He advertises with varying success but finally he’s got all the band assembled in the community center. They want to know what kind of music they’re supposed to play. Jimmy tells them this:

-Where are yis from? (He answered the question himself)-Dublin. (He asked another one.) – Wha’ part o’Dublin? Barrytown. Wha’ class is yis? Workin’ class. Are yis proud of it? Yeah, yis are. (Then a practical question.) – Who buys the most records? The workin’ class. Are yis with me? (Not really.) – Your music should be abou’ where you’re from an the sort o’ people yeh come from- Say it once, say it loud, I’m black an’ I’m proud.

They looked at him.

–James Brown. Did yis know—never mind. He sang tha’. An’ he made a fuckin’ bomb.”

I really like the next section better, but if you’re not from Europe, it’ll come over as racist out of context, so just read the story. It will be worth it.

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And it is time to leave you with a final smuttle. Back to the deep South again, but something more modern. From Rebecca Wells’s “The Divine Secrets Of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”:

Sidda reconsiders her feelings for her mother, her boyfriend and about her past and concludes:

“I have been missing the point. The point is not knowing another person or learning to love another person. The point is simply this: how tender can we bear to be? What good manners can we show as we welcome ourselves and others into our hearts.”

Thanks Din Mutha for giving me the excuse to smuttle.

 

* Crossposted from my primary blog: http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blog/list?user=3emv6cbunmywz

** All images found at Google

Review: My Little Poopoofnick

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After a friend had taken the bone chilling dive into e-publishing, I thought, “Why not?” But then I have not the brave heart and rhinoceros hide my friend has. I’m taking it slowly, getting my feet wet one toe at a time.

To this end, I’ve been reading a lot of self-published (free!) books this summer, just to see what’s out there.

My plan was to review all the books I read, but the quality of four fifths of the first batch was appalling. The goal was to hang on for at least two pages of each, but that proved to be too much to ask. The 5th book , a short story really, hooked me.

While trawling through the e-pub fishing limits, I reeled in an oddly titled work:


Having been blessed with a number of story-telling Jewish auxilliary grandparents, who would make up these kind of endearments for me, I can spot a Yiddish-ism a mile away and I was betting this story would be good.

 It was.

 Robert Chapin is a story teller. He’s not (in this case) aspiring to any literary heights and provides 10 pages of solid, captivating, conversational storytelling. This is a small town, porch-sitting-of-an-evening story whose simplicty reveals larger truths and takes it beyond the ordinary. It is subtitled “ a true story”, and from the first sentence, I was willing to go along with that.

 Set in a small Massachusetts town, the characters and settings spring to life without wordy ornamentation. None of the characters, save the presumably delectable Marilyn Snell, who we are told, is a blonde, are described in physical details.

 However, when Chapin tells us Mrs. Dyjak “…was all business-feared by the kids who entered the store to buy a bottle of coke”, you know you’ve got a corner-shop battle-axe standing in front of you. In contrast, Mr. Dyjak, her husband is described more gently: “When slicing and weighing lunch meat, he always threw an additional two or three slices in the package.” It is clear that the battle-axe is married to a big softy.

 These characters are reassuringly familiar and yet unfamiliar enough to be interesting. In a brief paragraph, (or a few sentences if the reader is susceptible), it becomes easy to care about what happens to these people, however un-momentous the events of their lives seem in the greater world view.

 Mr. Chapin lets us know that the Poopoofnick finishes highschool, gets a job, gets drafted into the Army and goes to Viet-Nam. He is awarded a purple heart and returns more or less in one piece to the US and then… in the finest storytelling tradition, we are promised that more will follow in “Lee Iacocca, The Baby Boomer and My Mustang 1964.”

 “My Little Poopoofnick”is what author, actor, Renaissance man, Stephen Fry would call a “snack read”, a literary lagniappe which leaves the reader hungry for more. As one of my many “Bubbies” would say, “Try it, you’ll like it.”

My Little Poopoofnick” by Robert Chapin

 http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/77578