Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer of Fun in No Particular Order

I am the worst swimmer ever known. But I stay above water--barely. Falmouth, MA

Maeve's first fudgcicle. Truro, MA

Summer campers.

Dad shows the way. Truro, MA

I do I do.

Oops, wrong wedding.

Inn with open front windows. Newport, RI

Unknown shoppers. Falmouth, MA

Window display, Falmouth, MA

Something-encrusted salmon (I always intend to order something besides salmon but never can) Phusion restaurant, Woods Hole, MA

All I can think of when I see the vast yachatage is "oh god, the money!" View from Woods Hole, MA

Captain Kidd's in Woods Hole, MA
I want this for my living room.

Unknown but humble man in Bourne, MA

Unknown talkative motorcyclist in Onset Beach, MA

Unknown talkative lilies at The Mount, Lenox, MA

Antiquated relic also at The Mount, Lenox, MA

And finally, dear reader, always remember.....

Shop till you drop.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Railroad bridge on Cape Cod canal. See me?

Approaching Bourne Bridge. Look at that hawk, or whatever it is! Yikes! Auntie Em!
I am down here for a few days, dear reader. Avoiding Toyo....oops, I don't want to say whose survey I am avoiding. love,becky
More Cape travels coming up this weekend. I wonder if this pic is visible now.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Henry James and Don Draper

I'm coming clean. I'm standing at the platform and announcing it boldly. I can't stand Henry James. No student of mine will ever have to read him in my class. Here is a sample of what I don't like (from The Golden Bowl, published 1909). Take a deep breath, dear reader:

"He was intelligent enough to feel quite humble, to wish not to be in the least hard or voracious, not to insist on his own side of the bargain, to warn himself in short against arrogance and greed. Odd enough, of a truth, was his sense of this last danger--which may illustrate moreover his general attitude toward dangers from within."

Or this:

"Humble as he was, at the same time, he was not so humble as if he had known himself frivolous or stupid. He had an idea--which may amuse his historian--that when you were stupid enough to be mistaken about such a matter you did know it. Therefore he wasn't mistaken--his future might be MIGHT be scientific. There was nothing in himself, at all events, to prevent it. He was allying himself to science, for it was science but the absence of prejudice backed by the presence of money?

AAAAAAAAAARGH! Now I don't mind working for what I get. And I don't mind a long sentence and I certainly don't mind subtlety. But I'm not crazy about surfing--word surfing, where you have the subject in your hand or the vague idea of what might be important and you're surfing across the rest of the sentence, trying to hold on till you find the verb. Or the connection. Or whatever the hell is going on. Here's another shorter one (always welcome):
"It had been said as a joke, but as, after this, they awaited their friend in silence, the effect of the silence was to turn the time to gravity--a gravity not dissipated even when the Prince next spoke."

Gore Vidal referred to the "marvelous ambiguity" of James. My own quote would be closer to "huh?".

I don't always LIKE ambiguity, you know? I like things right out on the table most of the time. The temperature is 86 degrees. It's August. My birthday is September 12. (still a few shopping days left)

Don't get me wrong. I would far rather read Golden Bowl than any vampire book. Or any sci-fi book or fantasy. Sorry, that's my personal taste.

It's not that James is taciturn like Hemingway, who never tells you anything. You have to figure it out. He once said that his work was 10% above the surface and 90% below. It's amazing that he got away with that, but he did. He is the buried influence of everyone writing today who is told, "show, don't tell."

Here's what that means.

Bob answered the phone angrily.

That's telling.

"Hello!" Bob yelled into the phone and threw it across the room.

That's showing.

Bob shredded the phone into little plastic bits, sharpened his Swiss Army knife to kill his next subway victim, and decided not to answer the phone.

That might be a little of both.

Get it? Adverbs are bad. BAAAAAAAAAAD.

Well anyway, it's not as though James holds back words. He puts in plenty of words. More words than you want to hear. But somehow, the content, to me, gets lost. Somehow, his words are opaque and mysterious. I'm left wondering what he has said.

Jump forward to MAD MEN's Don Draper. He is more of a Hemingway character. He never says much, only occasionally to clients. That's when he shows his soul.

The show is brilliant. Its quality is so high, it's been a while since a TV program got this kind of buzz, probably since The Sopranos. And the clear star is Jon Hamm's Don Draper. He's sexy and handsome in a bone chilling way. I find him cold. Without heart. He's Michael Corleone across town, working in an ad agency.

His wife is Betty. She is a terrible mother, one of the worst. She yells at the kids and has no interest in them. She is cold also and a shell of a person. Thing is, she knows it. She sees a psychiatrist for it. Don doesn't. He thinks he's fine. Betty is as beautiful as Don is handsome. There are many more plots, but I guess what I'm trying to say is the show is very sparely written. They don't say much. And there always seems to be a little lag before someone says something, although that could be me. It's very Hemingway and very un-Jamesian and yet sometimes I don't know what anyone is thinking.
Living the last Week of the Dream, dear reader.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It's all on Buchholz Does this look like an 80-year-old guy wearing a Red Sox hat and scolding a few young 'uns? I TOLD YOU LITTLE PUNKS TO STAY OFF MY FRONT PORCH! NOW GIT!

Well, it isn't. It's Clay Buchholz, dear reader, 25-year-old pitcher for the team, throwing his hardest. This is what you look like when you are throwing hard.

It makes you realize what tension is.
More and more Little Leaguers are feeling the tension. According to an article in last week's NYT,
Tommy John surgery is becoming more and more common in LITTLE LEAGUERS!

This is tension I just don't like to think about.

This is Nick Bona, pitcher for Peabody (Ma) West, headed for Little League World Series this weekend. I really hope his arm feels good and that he isn't urged to throw more pitches than it will allow. (thanks to Salem News) And of course I hope they win.

According to, of the top 100 high school football players entering the 2009 season, ten are from Texas and none are from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, or Maine. What's up with that? Are we not big enough? Is a good New England boiled dinner not nutritious enough for the game today?

Nobody would be using illegal substances, would they? No, I'm sure they wouldn't.

We do still have #12:
One benefit of Brady's time off was that he got to spend more time with his family. He briefly addressed that Thursday. 'I'm a very optimistic person. I cherish those moments,'' he said. 'There have been great things happening in my life for a long time. This year was no different in different areas of success with marriage and with children and it's a great part of my life and so is work. So, I'm excited for all of those things coming together. I think I'm a happier person when I'm working.'

shown here demonstrating marriage proposal techniques to other Patriots.

Rambling around today, dear reader. I'll try to get organized if I can. Car dealer is still trying to get me to take "the survey."
A bientot

Friday, August 14, 2009

Berkshire Getaway

The Berkshires in western Massachusetts have long been an enclave of artists, philosophers, and writers. Rich people followed them over the years in order to be associated with them. I did it myself this week.

It's charming. It's quaint. And most of all, it's very quiet. I can't stand the constant sound of muzak, piped in crapola, airport television, TV and radio everywhere. Lenox, Stockbridge/Pittsfield/Williamstown offer a refuge. People use words bigger than futon. You can be sitting on a bench outside and listen to people arguing about existentialism. We were having a drink outside and as we sat there, some deep-voiced man across the street yelled out, "STELLA!" Tennessee Williams's famous play had just opened and so it was quite humorous to hear it on the street miles from the event. One would be hard pressed to compete successfully in Scrabble.
It is that thrilling.

You can tour The Mount, former home of Edith Wharton, and pretend you are Edith.
I love the respectful way the staff refers to her as Mrs. Wharton.

And well they should. She was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

We had a divine lunch in a cardboard box. We sat on the terrace. Again, I pretended I was Edith. Her gardens are truly magnificent and possibly look better today than they did when she was here.

Yes, dahling, I'll have lemon in my tea. Would you be so kind?

Being here makes one have better manners entirely. The wooded areas are beautiful and mystical and dark. You really think you are going to see a hobbit, which I know is mixing my authors up. The only thing I quibble with Edith over is her long and lasting friendship with Henry James. I can't read HJ. But perhaps they had a great time together. Perhaps the two dignified authors sat and giggled just where I sat. I like thinking of that.

I'm thinking of a book, Henry, about a woman with an unhappy marriage. What is your opinion?

Ventfort Hall in Lenox is being restored and so quite lovely in some places and a total wreck in others.
I did not know that it was used for the exterior shots in Cider House Rules. Golly gosh, I'm standing in the orphanage! I must watch that movie again.

The real reason to go to the Berkshires is the theatre (and Tanglewood, of course, but I still haven't gotten there). We saw two productions this time, the above-mentioned Streetcar Named Desire which was quite good and Quartermaine's Terms which was less so.
It is hard to put up a comedy. It is hard to make people laugh. And you will never ever succeed with everyone. This is especially true if there is something dark underneath. Even so, I'm afraid the audience voted with their feet on this one. Many left at intermission.
I loved being there. More later.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

See U Later

Off to have some fun, dear reader. Will report when I get back.

Hold the faith. Keep the dream. Be here now.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

And Another Thing

Maybe the thing I hate the most about buying a car is The Survey.

Or perhaps I should say The Dreaded Survey.

They start with you in the showroom as soon as you come to a deal.

"I've taken care of you, haven't I, Mary?"

"Wouldn't you say your experience has been excellent, Mary?"

"I know you got the wrong car at first, Mary, and then had to wait over a week and then had to negotiate again, but wouldn't you say I was excellent at my job?"

"You know, we don't get paid if we don't get 'excellent' marks on the survey."

"You know, the survey is my report card, Mary. I am rated on how I do on the survey."

They start groveling and poking their heads over the cubicle to ask if you want soda or coffee. They make sure you will get a free oil change and infer that you could bargain for further free service calls.


They start calling you at home too. "You know, Mary, [car brand] is going to be calling you soon with a little survey that they will ask you to take, one that evaluates our dealer performance here at [dealership name].

You think to yourself, no way in hell am I saying that they were excellent. But then you think I am going to be a service customer here for a long time. It's convenient for me. I don't want them to hate me. What if they did?

I really don't know what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You Asked for It--You Got It!

Yes, that's right, dear reader. A new car is mine! I don't feel I want to say which brand but perhaps you can figure it out!!!!
I'm very happy to say that the dealer agreed to swap the "mistake" car I was delivered last week for the new one, the right one, without any extra funds. YAAAAAAAAY!
And WHEEW. They did try to stick me for $399 to register the car. They took the mistake car as a used car trade and said the extra fee was for registration or some such bs.

"That $399 is killing us," they said.
Have you ever heard Amy Winehouse sing "Rehab"? The memorable line is, "I said no! no! no! I said no! no! no!"

There are days I think I look like Ms. W. There are days I definitely have her attitude and today was one.

so yaay again! And a bit of the bubblay for moi!

As for my son's wedding, it was tres magnifique.
Here are a few tidbits:

My excellent brother

my excellent s-i-l

A bientot, dear reader. love,becky