marți, 29 noiembrie 2022

The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark, included on the list of 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read, along with the celebrated The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - 8 out of 10


The Driver’s Seat by Muriel Spark, included on the list of 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read, along with the celebrated The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

8 out of 10



Muriel Spark seems to have a penchant for outré characters and Lise from The Driver’s Seat is one of the most awkward we can meet, we may think of To The Hermitage by Malcolm Bradbury, who writes that the literary life is much more interesting than the physical one, for we meet much more vivid, wiser, intense personages, the events are way more vibrant and challenging, and besides, we can access all these from the house, or even bed – not in those words, but I hope to this effect - and this novel is a wild ride


Lise is one of the most intriguing figures we can find, though on the other hand, there is plenty to observe outside and wonder where all this is going – they have voted for Lula in Brazil, with a small margin, but both he and the other thug, Bolsanaro are examples of what the people identify with, the lamentable choices and models out there, Lula will embrace Putin shortly, and the other one needs no more presentation, and then you have the likes of Trump and let me stop right here, before I descend into a mad outcry and eventually join Lise into her miserable destiny – self destruction seems to be what humanity has in mind, if it does have a common conscience, for the way the climate is changing, we do not think much

The main character of this ‘metaphysical shocker’ is working somewhere in Europe, where she has a bizarre episode, we are told she only had had another one five years ago, but she does behave in very weird manner, although again, what is strange in this Mad, Mad World of ours, where we now have conspiracy theories peddled, encouraged by the most prominent fellows, the supposed role models, like the often idiotic Musk, do fantastic things, with electric cars and what not, and then show such a despicable side to their character as to have the decent folks freeze…in the latest descent into the latrine, the richest man in the world tweeted a link to a site which suggested, with others, that Paul Pelosi, the eighty two year old attacked with a hammer, was having sex with his assailant, or something along these lines, I mean what the hell, how much lower can you get, you goddamn fool


On the other hand, this latest proof of perversity shows us that we must not envy the ‘poor’ rich, for their mind can bring about great projects, but has plenty of space for the most foul productions, and thus we should follow the stoic precepts and be satisfied with what we have…coming back to our Lady of the Flowers, she is clearly nuts, but seeing that the definition of crazy is they do what ‘normal’ humans avoid, would not think of, then how come hundreds of millions vote for the likes of Trump, Duterte or the son of a dictator, Bolsanaro and many other creeps, it is because these voters themselves are just mad


The opposite is also credible, I could be mad, for there is the example of the comedian that looks at If by Rudyard Kipling and takes a mischievous, funny look and says that if all around you are saying this thing and you keep with the ‘alternative fact’, then you should see a specialist, which is how I felt at the sauna at the Downtown Club, when one after another, members would walk inside and affirm the veracity of the various conspiracy theories, starting with 9/11, and then continuing with the rest, for I would try and argue – which is so damn futile, to try and use rational arguments with absurd freaks – let us presume 9/11 is along your lines, but then what about the countless other attacks, priests stabbed in France, various demons running people over with their trucks, scores killed in nice and in so many parts of the world, area all those phony, and the answer from the troglodytes is of course, yes…

This was a divagation, which is the ‘style’ of this rambling maniac, but it is because Lise reminds me of all those apparitions I have met – and maybe will again, as I contemplate returning after the pandemic to the same old club, only I have to consider it seriously, if I want to face the same cave men again, with their ludicrous views of the world – and when I think of her as extreme, and say how could she do this or the other, the thought of much more serious alienation and excess comes to mind, from the ‘real world’ where you have folks embracing the likes of Putin, Trump, Bolsanaro and others like them


Lise is looking for her ‘type of man’, something that sounds reasonable, for we are all looking for our type of man, woman or other, even if some of us have been giving up hope – nonetheless, even if I have a respectable age, being ‘mature’ in a new age parlance, I am still keen, and you could comment on the note and then we see how we can get together – but she is not having much success in that, when she embarks on the plane, the fellow she is targeting stands up from the seat next to her, just as the plane is about to take off, and changes his place (however, he will enter the frame again at some point, and do not allow me to spoil the reading of the book for you here) to allow another weird character to be part of the picture, a bizarre fellow who has a diet based on rice and insists on having an orgasm every day, or else he has to have two on the following one and that is causing him some nausea

The protagonist of the saga – if we can call it that at one hundred and eighty very easily readable pages – has a strange taste in choosing clothes and colors, some will address her on the street, asking about the circus or carnival, she keeps lying about various aspects, insisting she travels all the time, but thinking about her reasons, it could be her way of coping, which will not be very effective in the end, imagining things in an attempt to see them happening in real life, such as the boyfriend that she claims is waiting for her, when she has not yet met him, we learn in fact very early that she will be found stabbed to death and then the media will cover the story and the police will ask various people about their encounter.


There is a sadness combined with humor in this often weird, and thus amusing story of an eccentric, who has a tragic ending ahead of her, she is both causing smiles and a series of shudders, as we take in what will happen to her, how desperate she is to find someone and get out of her isolation, a solitude that has driven her crazy and to the brink, in a position where she may want out…completely and irrevocably

Zen Stories From The Commie Days, 1, Pretentious, Moi

The Wondrous Dear Illusion by Master Zen Kingsley Amis

91 out of 100 for Breaker Upperers

duminică, 27 noiembrie 2022

The Queen, episode 5, ‘Baby you can drive my car, yes I’m gonna be a star’ -


The Queen, episode 5, ‘Baby you can drive my car, yes I’m gonna be a star’



There have been some moments of confusion, The queen was talking to Daryl, surely I must have said something to her, when she presumably asked about him, or just testified to how cute and well behaved he is, waiting and all that in the Audi, but instead of offering her a ride – which would have been futile, since she was just going 50 meters down the road, as we will soon discover, unless I am off one of my tangents and then think hard about what I was talking about and then tell you the joke about the three women, one is the host, keeps giving the guests coffees, and after they leave, not before sixteen cups, one of the visitors says to the other ‘what about Mitza, she kept saying let’s have some coffee and she never delivered, to which the other is going ‘who’s Mitza? –I was sinking in my sorrow over…money


Money, money, money, makes the world go round, and then repeat – is this from Cabaret, with Liza Minnelli, or just plain wrong – but finally, I see what I may be missing, and then hurry down the street to the CFR Railway tickets agency (where incidentally, an aunt used to work, second wife of hilarious, very nice, regretted uncle Nelu…though at his wake, somehow I may have signed off with the family, for they have been unhappy that I came down too casually dressed, then I did not do the proper things, which is odd, for I did not get soused and passed out, in fact, I only stayed for about fifteen minutes I guess, and I was with a female companion, perhaps the spouse I would marry some time later, no way to ask, for if we are still married, it is just so that she spends all the money, the ones we have and the ones that are just on loan, to tell me every other day how stupid, goddamn vile, disgusting and you see where this is going I am paying through the nose and all I get now is bile and venom…

However, this is deserved to a great degree, perhaps fully, or 140%, if we consider the cheating, going to prostitutes (albeit to hear it again, and again, for something that [at least as she knows it] has happened years and years ago) the dialogues she has found in the (recklessly left unattended) phone and so much more, however oxymoronic it also feels to hear you are impotent and then find you are also accused of paying for a harem and having a subscription to a brothel, if not many…



After the initial hesitation, the longing for lost money, listening for a few seconds to the stranger talking to the dog, seeing her depart, I probably say to myself ‘wait a minute, are you really going to let this pass…was she muma padurii, somehow disgusting, terrifying, hateful, sadistic or what…for if nothing is wrong, merde, move fast and break things’ this is the time to mention (for the millionth time in these texts which back in a loop, but hey, few, if anyone reads through this, so what if every two years I come back to the same subject, there is a change, I forget, and the time of this day, now is different from say the day in July 2020, when I last touched on the theme, it is cold, a grey hair outside, war in Ukraine, an energy, economic, political and every other kind of crisis, while back then, there was just the pandemic, and hot, with the sun shining and stifling every move…what has not changed is the spouse spending like crazy, to breaking point and the eternal lamenting here) Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and The Thin Slicing Theory


We take decisions, form opinions in the blink of an eye, Without Thinking, and maybe that was the better verdict, the one made in the first few seconds – an example of a test comes to mind, they have asked people to give an opinion on a teacher after seeing him for a few seconds and that matched what students said about the same professor, after being in his class for a…semester – the flaw in this phony syllogism here is that I did not say ‘no’ to the Fatal Attraction, and then when it came to the end - spoiler alert, yes, there is The End of The Affair and I am 58 soon to be 59 and the beauty in the story is what 51 on 52, we are coming close to those characters in The Notebook – it was the girl who said it, or more accurately, she would not come to the phone when I would be calling from…Belgium

As for now, I am heading towards her and I see she is entering the Agentia de voiaj, some ticketing place for the railways, I claim that I need to see where I can buy tickets for my train, there are different agents (Mihaela, the second wife of my uncle Nelu, a big mouth, but rather nice woman, used to work here) and when I see the woman, I stand behind her, presumably waiting for my turn to be able to buy my place on the train to Vaslui, or was I trying to think what to say, if I will have the nerve to talk.


If we had had this encounter some years back, say when I was a teenager, I would not have had the courage to talk to her, after all, there was this super smart teenager, not the most fabulous, but nice, who came to me, she made the first move and then she waited for the dumb fuck that I was to push ahead for some months, and all I could do was to just stand next to her in the trolleybus 84 and say nothing, until it was over, for you can’t wait for eternity and she did not, but then I would over compensate for that dumbness and would become such a talker that I am to this day a nuisance in the deluge I provide

Look at the pile of crap I am putting up here, there is this blog with what, ten thousand or one hundred thousand posts – but there is accolade for 250,000 clicks and 300 subscribers on YouTube, which would be on the downside two clicks for every one of the 100k videos I placed there, on the upside, one of the subscribers is the Pulitzer Prize Winner Robert Olen Butler and we are friends on Facebook...since I am on the subject, let us stay on the tangent and tell you how one day, I find a comment on a video about a short story, from Olen Butler and I say ‘no way, it cannot be the Pulitzer Winner, it is a hoax’ and I ask Hannah, my daughter and she sees that his profile is authenticated by the network and then we communicate for a bit and see that we share a love (sometimes I feel less than positive about Balzac in particular) for birds and parrots in particular, and the great author has some incredible stories, one about the tragic end of a parrot, once the owner is gone, his neck is snatched, if I remember correctly…

As it was, before I reached the agent selling tickets, I talked to the woman in front and sais ‘look, I am not here to buy any seat, we just talked a while ago, if you remember, with the dog and all, so can we continue the conversation’ words to that effect I would say, for I do not remember even the most important seconds in my life, maybe my mind was irremediably affected in the days of the revolution in which I took part, as you can see in this Newsweek article, where I am Realini Ionescu, talking to Michael Meyers, Central Europe bureau chief then

This Book Is Life Changing - The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

This Book Is Life Changing - The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky

77 out of 100 for Don't Worry Darling

sâmbătă, 26 noiembrie 2022

Court of Inquiry by The Messiah of Comedy Kingsley Amis - 10 out of 10


Court of Inquiry by The Messiah of Comedy Kingsley Amis  

10 out of 10



Court of Inquiry is the second in the Collection of Short Stories by Kingsley Amis and seems to follow on the footsteps of the first one, My Enemy’s Enemy, at least one of the characters, the adjutant, shows up again in what is another story about the military (apparently the shortest one that Medicine Man Amis has written) inspired from the experience of the author, while he was doing his military service.


We are told this is 1944 and we have a mess hall and ‘only the fact that two or three of them were also drinking stopped the place from looking like a barber’s waiting room’ which shows you the incredible talent that the ‘Angry Young Man’ had for hilarity, he was acclaimed as the best writer of comedy in the second half of the last century – he would have competition from Evelyn Waugh, if it comes to the whole 20th century.

The target of sarcasm in this second short story would be the absurdity of officers in the army, which seems to be a rule everywhere – think of that moron Flint, hired by Trump and willing to have martial law and get the military seize the voting machines, while taking money from foreign powers and saying nothing about it, willing to give tyrant Erdogan an opposition figure living in the free United States.


Then I recollect what my cousin and once best friend – he has been living in Argentina for quite a number of years, and I only saw him in the past thirty once, in 2006, when he was cheering me on for having slapped Miss Romania in the 1990s, when I was clearly an idiot…granted, at the time, it looked like the woman was saying to this goodfella that she is ‘available’, when she called him from the reception of the Lido hotel, where I was standing beside her, as her lover, I thought, only she was saying on the phone that she has her assistant on cue, hence I slapped what I saw as a pute…yes, I know, I am a goddamn son of bitch and a monster- told me about the military, that they are all limited…

Promotions are given to those who obey orders, and in our commie system – of which he was mostly talking about – these were the subordinates, gorillas, dogs from the magnum opus Animal Farm by George Orwell if you will that kept Ceausescu in power and maintained the tyranny because of the privileges they had.


Once they turned on him, Ceausescu lost his throne, faced the trial (it was not a fair one, a kangaroo version, but we can also argue over the aspect that he was clearly guilty of torture, massacre, hunger, brain washing, keeping people in the dark and cold, imprisoned and the list is so long we better stop here) and then he was executed by firing squad in Targoviste, about sixty miles north from where I write this


By the way, I took part in the 1989 Revolution, a contested rebellion, and then my contribution was quite small, only hey, I went down to the Roman Square and protested, along with just about two hundred others, while at the end of the shooting show, tens of thousands showed up to claim certificates and the many lucrative benefits…Andrei Finti should have a statue, but that will never happen, for the same military, Securitate took over and then we had a sort of neo-communist regime for another six years or so.

What was I saying anyway…right, it was about Court of Inquiry, but the Kafkaesque situation of the short story made me remember our own internal affairs in the days of the demonic Ceausescu, with its similar excesses and atrocious injustices…in this episode  from World War II, they do not reach the same level of torture, ineptitude, violence and stupidity that we have seen in the communist systems, but we have a foolish situation nonetheless


Major Raleigh is the villain here, just as that vile adjutant was in My Enemy’s Enemy – you can read a note on that tale on the blog – together with the general who demanded to have a special courier sent to Brussels to take his dirty laundry, though he would not state that, but claim he needs this for official business, and then bring back cigars and wine, and he has the idea to organize a Court of Inquiry.

His target is poor, young Frank Archer, who has made another mistake, for he has lost a charging engine, and that will be the object of the Court of Inquiry, however preposterous this is, as our narrator, Jock is arguing, since the engine was not in functioning, they have no spare parts for it, and besides, there is at least another one, in good shape, with spares, which is available and nobody claims…


However, Major Raleigh says that ‘is not the point’ to which hilariously Jock retorts ‘do I hold Archer while you beat him up, or what’ and then we learn with amusement that ‘the major’s modes of operation were often inventive, to the point of romanticism’, albeit even for him that was farfetched.

Humor is so abundant that the reader is regaled in just a few pages, which is the way of Magician Amis, ‘three waitresses whose ugliness was too extreme to be an effect of chance, but libido in Raleigh’s domain’ culminating with the drama show of the Court, where Frank Archer puts on a formidable show (spoiler alert) where he does mea culpa, admitting he forgot the engine, he is ashamed of letting the company down, thankful for the help offered by Major Raleigh, which is in fact non extant, for is there had been any, there would not be any Court of Inquiry, this shows how intelligent Archer was, seeing that there was no alternative to having Raleigh stop at the court, without that ostentatious penitence

Blasphemous Rumours From The Commie Days, Episode 1, Assistenz

Learning From Blink The Power of Thinking About Thinking by Malcolm Glad...

88 out of 100 for Val

joi, 24 noiembrie 2022

The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury, author of the magical Rates of Exchange - 10 out of 10


The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury, author of the magical Rates of Exchange

10 out of 10



The History Man fits the description offered by its author in the marvelous To The Hermitage where he insists on the advantage that the literary world has over the physical one, for in the former we meet characters that are more compelling, wiser, more vivid, effervescent than the ones we see outside, or on television (think Trump, Bolsanaro and supporters), the events in the art world are more captivating, engaging (unless we are speaking of Kafka or Beckett, Bradbury suggests with humor) and we can get into this spectacular, divine world from our room, or even our bed and to mix in the Umberto eco take on  reading ‘the reader has five thousand lives while the one who does not read has just the one…reading is eternity backwards’ then we have an ‘eggsplosive’ (this is me talking like Cordelia from The Russian Girl by Magister Ludi Kingsley Amis) mix and we can reach Shangri La from home…


Having said that The History Man is exhilarating, one must also mention that the hero is just as much an anti-hero and in the present, it would be interesting to see how audiences will react to him, for he is the epitome of the dominant male, taking advantage of his students, in the case of Felicity, he sleeps with her, and as for a male challenger, he does all he can to have the poor fellow ejected from the university, failing his course and refusing to give him access to his classes, The History Man cheats on his wife, has sex with at least two other teachers and furthermore, he seems to be an extreme leftist

The History Man was called the ‘definitive campus novel and one of the most influential in the 1970s’, only one has to consider how this will be viewed today by some of the Woke people, who will rush to cancel it maybe, notwithstanding the fact that Howard kirk is not created and presented to the readers as a model to follow, on the contrary, he is very much like all of us, plagued by shortcomings and endowed with quite a few skills and abilities, he is charming to the point where he is pressed to have sex with his student, when Felicity has trouble in her lesbian affair, her partner getting rather violent, she wants help from her professor, in the form of sex, and however clear it is that he should have never entered such an immoral bond, we are talking about flawed human beings (that is personages) and in his distorted frame of mind he felt he was doing the girl a service, at her bequest.


Then we have to consider the background, the story takes place around 1967, a period when the Flower Power movement, make love not war mantra were at their zenith, and the standards were very different (not that sleeping with students has ever been the norm, or acceptable, unless we are going into Taliban territory) and I am thinking of our own early days, when we were told the man has to be an alpha male, dominant, and there is story that has been told many times over here, with this fellow who has the girl at his place, or maybe hers, and then starts to undress her, and when she asks what is he doing, he says nothing…


He will keep saying that, all the way through, taking all clothes off and pushing towards copulation, while assuring his ‘partner’ that ‘nothing’ is happening and there is no reason to worry, because this was 'his role’, to sooth, lie, and follow his goal with tenacity, while she has to act innocent, just like in another scenario that was so often seen in practice as to be made a joke, with Russian protagonists, and a bit of a soviet twist in there, depicting them as red commies, perverse in their stupid ideology…Ivan is chasing after Natasha, calling for her, Natasha, and she is rushing away, while he keeps calling

Natasha, Natasha, and she is thinking to herself, if I slow down or stop, he will think I am a tramp, so I better stumble somehow, and when she does, Ivan says ‘Natasha, davai cotizatia’, or something like ‘give me the party card payment’, we could argue much more over this topic, looking into authoritarianism and the vicious influence it had over people, making males ever more brutal, and women trying to adapt to an atmosphere where oppression was the rule, but we are supposed to discuss The History Man and not Ceausescu and the monstrous regime and its effect on the people here…


Hey, if this note is not perfect, it is not because of my failures – to quote the biggest idiot in the world, Trump, ‘I have a very big brain’, the fact that it is not working well is another matter – but the regime that has traumatized me and the rest of the population, except for the ‘more equal of animals at the farm’…Howard Kirk is a leftist and as such, he has a small chance to become one of my favorite characters, indeed, when I first read The History Man I was not so thrilled, considering the commie experience we had to go through here, no human of the far left would be a dear figure, and Howard is a rebel, and an extremist…

His wife, Barbara, has affairs, so in this sense, their quite wide open marital bond is not unbalanced, he is not ‘cheating’ on her, they both look for pleasure, fulfilment, connections outside their home –and quite often within it – with the exception of the student, the other women that go to bed (or on the floor or elsewhere) with The History Man do so because they want to, though one of them could be seduced by his charm and she is handicapped by her inexperience and naiveté in this matter.


Where Howard Kirk is ghastly is in his rapport with a male student who is not a Marxist, but a conservative type (which his teacher would call ‘anal’) who is not coping well with his class, and whereas Felicity is offered emotional, sexual support, the male is expelled from class, told he will fail and thrown out of University altogether, which is a clear show of injustice and the young man tries to get back, investigates the philandering professor and takes…pictures, proving what he does with several women, the promiscuity and immoral coitus with a student who gets high grades, for her intimacy maybe (to be fair, readers know that at least initially, Howard has opposed the approach, and finds Felicity pushing, she is the one willing to be a baby sitter, accepting when Barbara suggests she stays over the weekend, when she is gone to London – Barbara I mean – to fuck with an actor and the professor is not really attracted to the student, he has another main target in mind)


Unlike Howard, I was a promoter of the revolution against the Marxists, and have done my small part for the overthrow of Ceausescu, as told here:

After the Revolution, Episode 7, Spring 1990

The Inspiring Dream of Reason by Anthony Gotlieb

One of The Best Movies in 2022 - I Don't Feel At Home In This World Anymore

marți, 22 noiembrie 2022

My Enemy’s Enemy by Magister Ludi Kingsley Amis, author of sixteen masterpieces and counting – I still have to read maybe twenty or so – including Stanley And The Women - 10 out of 10


My Enemy’s Enemy by Magister Ludi Kingsley Amis, author of sixteen masterpieces and counting – I still have to read maybe twenty or so – including Stanley And The Women

10 out of 10



Reading Kingsley Amis has surely helped me do this and it is a continuous joy, for I have now started reading what is probably magnum opus Short Stories of this divine novelist, who did not see this genre favorably, and the reasons are explained in the introduction, but nevertheless, even if Amis Senior said something to the effect of ‘short stories are chips from the writer’s block’ they offer plenty of substance and entertainment…


Kingsley Amis has used his own experience as signals officer, stationed in Belgium during World War II, and he mentions in his Memoirs some facts that check out with My Enemy’s Enemy, if I remember well, there is the passage where he mentions the loathsome officer, perhaps a general, just as in our tale, who abused his position, and instead of allowing servicemen and service women (should we include others at this time, perhaps we should, for even if they did not identify then as Two Spirits, or binary, non-gender, surely there were humans with a much more complex sexuality) to do their duty, the goddamn fool has them working for his errands, just as in this short story, we have one of the leaders of the army sending his dirty laundry to Brussels by special delivery, to get from there wines, cigars and more.

This is serious writing, indeed, even when we laugh out loud, such as in Ending Up, where you have some incredible humor, let me tell you one scene, which makes me laugh right now, where something is described as being so awkward as to be compared with the waiter in a fancy restaurant, say the Ritz (though the author probably has not used that name in particular) coming to sit down with the client, just like that, a picture that is described in another novel as the limit of absurdity with some courier coming inside the house (well more of a mansion and then this has to be from I Want It Now where we have this preposterous, wealthy, Pompous woman, lady something or other  to ask to see the Rembrandts


The humor of the description of the general who is calling the protagonist of the tale, Tom Thurston, to provide a courier because he needs him for military affairs, when in fact he just wants his laundry cleaned and goodies from Brussels, is mixed with the dram of the same abuse, for if Tom has someone available, we learn that this means somebody else will most likely have to drive from dawn all the way to the next night, to do some real, hard duty, just because that damn idiot takes his privileges to abuse.

However, Tom Thurston, in which we can see a version of Kingsley Amis is a complex character, for he does not report this infringement, odious breaking of the rules and the law by the general to someone who could take serious action, such as maybe court martial, or at the very least, hush up the affair, so that it does not go out in the public that you have commanding officers doing such things at war, but put that thug in his place, take command from him and stop him from using the military for his entertainment…


We have another important character here, Dally aka Dalessio, who witnesses the conversation over the courier and is asking Thurston, who is his superior, why he (Tom) does not do something about this abuse, and Dalessio has other things to say about Tom, he uses an educated, posh voice and manner to imitate the man with a degree from Oxford ‘tewwbly geieved heah depwive’ and so on, and this is an interesting dynamic

Tom Thurston defends Dalessio when the adjutant wants to punish him and emphasizes that Dally has technical skills and is good at what he does, while a protégé of the adjutant is not a happy case; nevertheless Dally is going to be punished for his laxity, not listening to superior officers when they give ‘important orders’


Therefore, there will be an inspection, taking advantage of the fact that Dalessio was not listening when boring information was provided – this leads me to think of extracts from a classic of psychology, People Skills, and the emphasis it puts on communication, which has listening at the core, listening would be the Yang, while assertion would be the Ying of communication, if I have it right, and we need to show we are listening, paying attention to the speaker…also, seventy percent of what is ‘communicated’ is lost, research shows, so it is key to take this seriously, which was this situation might prove – catching the man by surprise, in an inadequate state of affairs, with unclean boots perhaps…

Thurston (aka Amis maybe) hates the adjutant, thus My Enemy’s Enemy in this case might be Dally however imperfect that assignment would be (just as the saying that my enemy’s enemy is my friend or the other use the friends of my friends are my friends , heard by the under signed in French for some reason, is just wrong) but Tom is facing a quandary, he is warned by the adjutant to stay away and not interfere in this punishment that will exclude Dalessio and send him to the Eastern front


Tom has leave coming and he has lined up two women, he intends to spend some days with one, then travel to enjoy a week or so with another, but this will be in jeopardy if he tells Dally about what is in store for him, getting him ready to face the music…spoiler alert, the surprise comes from another officer, who enters the frame and helps out, telling the man of Italian descent about the storm coming.

He is anyway surprised and disgusted that tom had not done it and he tells him about this, with contempt, for the My Enemy ‘Enemy must be helped presumably, and now both Thurston and the adjutant are in the same league of Inglorious Bastards

After The Revolution, Episode 5, Fusai in Oltenia

An Alternative Present in The Fabulous Vaterland aka Fatherland by Rober...

83 out of 100 for Swimmer

duminică, 20 noiembrie 2022

Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis, author of the marvelous The Information - 9 out of 10


Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis, author of the marvelous The Information

9 out of 10



The father of the author, Kingsley Amis, is one of my favorite authors and very likely the one with a personal record, for I have read the biggest number of books in this case, very recently I have finished the spectacular The Russian Girl and that may have been novel number sixteen (it is not a technical issue we need to argue over here, but if we were, then among those there is the fabulous Memoirs, which is a different genre)


It is more than intriguing, baffling to have this rara avis, the one called the best writer of comedies in the second half of the twentieth century, and then in the same family, the son becomes one of the most acclaimed authors in his turn, both father and son are included on The All-TIME 100 Novels list and not only in this prestigious selection

The 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read compilation has Martin Amis with three works, The Information, Money and London Fields, while his father has only one, phenomenal Lucky Jim though I am putting twenty of his on my recommendations


Lucky Jim is the quintessential comedy, nec plus ultra, nothing can be better if you ask me, and I look forward to reading it again…and again

If I could read much more of the magnum opera of the father, I must say that I have enjoyed The Information very much, and found Money way more challenging


Nonetheless, Time’s Arrow has been a Bridge To Far, in that I am not equipped to take it on, at least not further than the thirty percent I have reached on the Kindle, or if I could get to the end, it would not be a rewarding experience

At least it does not look like it in the current climate, maybe it is the war in Ukraine, the colder weather and the rising energy prices, the prospect of economic crisis that is hitting more and more places.


I could also blame the lamentable sight that I have to face every morning, when I jog at the Mogosoaia Palace, a couple of miles away, where they have the ‘public’ lights on, but access for the public is…forbidden



However, this would be in many ways beside the point, for yes, the circumstances, the background where the book is taken on do matter, but I fear that in another context, Time’s Arrow would have presented the same challenge.

It has to do with focusing on the pages, which is getting harder – this could be because I am approaching thirty-five in my dreams, and fifty-nine in reality – and this could be something plaguing everybody.


In the age of the smart phone, people are becoming stupid (to quote a joke made by Bill Maher on his comedy show) and they cannot stay on the same page for long, especially if we are talking Kafka or Beckett.

The latter refers to To the Hermitage in which Malcolm Bradbury argues over the advantage that fictional characters have over the real ones, the former are wiser, more enticing, attractive than the latter, for most of the time…


If we are not talking about Kafka or Beckett, the events in the literary world are more interesting, challenging, thought provoking and we can get there from our room or bed, and immerse into the ‘five thousand lives that the readers have access to’ according to Umberto Eco, who says that this is eternity backwards

After The Revolution, Episode 3, Damned For All Time JCS

Awed by Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan, Shorlisted for The Boo...

72 out of 100 for The Crown, Mou Mou

Fatherland by Robert Harris 10 out of 10

 Fatherland by Robert Harris

10 out of 10

Fatherland is a phenomenal, glorious novel, included on the list of 1,000 novels Everyone Must Read, in the Crime section, albeit it is a perfect combination of mystery and Science fiction, or alternative history as its Wikipedia page states, taking place in the German empire, once the Nazi regime has won World War II and defeated its enemies – there are serious fights with guerrilla along the Urals – and it is about to have a détente with the United States, with which it is engaged in a cold war, much like the one we really had, they expect a summit between Hitler – who will be seventy five in a short while – and the American president, Joseph Kennedy, the pone who had been ambassador to the UK, a period during which he had expressed anti-Semitic views – the brilliant author explains in the post script that most of the documents in the book are real, from the timetable of the trains taking the Jews to be killed, through the minutes of the infamous Wannsee Conference.

At the beginning of the book there is a ‘hand of god’ gesture that has the hero – who is a complex character, he had been involved in the killing of allies, military and civilian, as a submarine commander during World War II and only later will have become disabused, disenfranchised and ultimately disgusted with the Nazi system – taking up the investigation of the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a body near a lake, in the vicinity of the housing of elite, rich functionaries and prominent business people, which turns out to belong to Buhler, a former high functionary in the regime, state secretary in territories that include Poland – which in the meantime has ceased to exist, incorporated with other states in the German Empire.

Xavier March finds many details about the death of the retired official, including the fact that he had enriched himself, benefiting from the spoils of war, selling with his partners in crime multiple objects of art, estimated at extremely high prices and thus being able to buy a small palace, much beyond the means that he had been provide with by the state – however, the Gestapo is taking on the investigation, claiming that this is state business, given the high rank of the deceased – who they claim that has drowned, against the evidence that he had been actually murdered – and we will find out that a massive cover up operation is in fact under way.

They had been eliminating over the years all the participants at the Wannsee conference, but nevertheless, Xavier March would uncover the secrets, against a powerful enemy, SS general Globus, head of the unofficial task force that kills the witnesses, with help from the American journalist Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Maguire…March and Charlie would eventually fall in love, though at the beginning they distrust each other…she had been the one to discover the corpse of Stuckart, former high official at the interior Ministry, part of the Buhler group, and she also had seen the two men that had been part of the team sent to dispatch him and his Polish lover.

Reinhard Heydrich is the head of the SS and the one to order the elimination of the attendees of the Wannsee conference, where they had discussed the details of the Final Solution aka the Holocaust – a meeting that has taken place in reality, albeit not for the lunatic holocaust deniers – from the means of killing they had used previously – such as the murder of 1,000 Jews in the forest, using guns, the mass killing with exhaust from the trucks and other ‘less effective’ methods – and they had wanted to move to murder on a massive scale, using the now infamous, monstrous death camps with the Zyclone gas and the installations made to execute thousands of people every week, with huge ovens, operated by Jewish Kapo, teams that would be there temporarily, only to be eliminated themselves after a few weeks.

The atrocious details from documents are real – although as we know, we have had no German Empire after World War II, only a very similar, if not an exact replica in the Evil Soviet Empire, lamented now by Putin and his fanatics – and we have historical evidence on data such as the amount of hair collected to be used on submarines and other places, with indications to keep only the male hair that is longer than 20 cm…the group of retired high officials that had accumulated a vast fortune – by taking it from occupied territories through Buhler, sending it to Stuckart and then using the Foreign Ministry state secretary Martin Luther to sell it and stash some of it in a Swiss bank – realized that it is in grave danger.

Therefore, they took precautions in the form of a vast stash of documents that would prove the guilt of the Nazi leaders – with the exception of Hitler himself, the monster has been careful in reality to avoid signing any incriminating evidence and clearly gave the verbal orders for the Final Solution – and should use as a strong defense and have them spared the fate of all other participants at the Wannsee conference, all of whom had met with death in so called accidents, a car bomb, assassination and more.

Spoiler alert: what has intrigued me to a high degree was the unusual ending, which goes against the usual type, in which we have a murder or a few and then the detective – it could be a few, as in The Poisoned Chocolates Case -is smart and finds the guilty party or parties, and here we have the hero tracking what has happened, only to be caught by Globus and his team, tortured and almost wasted, separated from his lover, Charlotte, who might find a way out to Switzerland, though we could not be sure, and then apparently given a chance to escape, as happens in most, if not all other mystery, adventure or thriller stories…

On the way to some other SS headquarters, the SS officer pretends the prisoner is urinating on himself and gives him a Luger pistol and the way out of the certain execution – the fate of Fyodor Dostoevsky comes to mind, the genius that had been sentenced to death – and he tells the readers in his Magnum opera about the feeling one has when facing death – and then pardoned – by joining his best friend, Jaeger – incidentally the name of one my best friends in the past – and the running for his life in a Mercedes limousine…yet, as he analyzes the conjecture, the hero understands that this is in fact a ruse meant to provoke him to reveal the thereabouts of Charlotte and his best friend – some friend – had been a traitor all along.

I mean this is as a brilliant as it can get, although so deeply unfortunate, since we want the main character not only to survive, but to join his lover in the free land in the consecrated tradition of the super hero, because it reflects what happens in reality, it has the final twist when we say ‘ok, so March does make it’ and the logical outcome does not betray the interest of such a consistent, moral, inspiring and so captivating novel.

vineri, 18 noiembrie 2022

Queen of Beauty, episode 4, and I am the Maharajah of Baluchistan


Queen of Beauty, episode 4, and I am the Maharajah of Baluchistan



She was talking to the dog, but I was to upset by the prospect of losing money, a lot of money, so I did not pay much attention in the first place.


Nevertheless, what about the quintessential Thin Slicing Theory explained in the magisterial Blink, the Power of Thinking Without Thinking by illuminati Malcolm Gladwell

Why was I not able to see in the first few seconds that I was standing in front of one of the most resplendent human beings alive?


There could be a few answers to that, the most pertinent perhaps being that I was (no longer, or is it still?) a fool, blind to the charms of this spectacular female and unable to see the massive, unique chance ahead.

The example of tasters comes to mind, from Blink, where there are numerous situations that explain how Thin Slicing works, from medicine to fighting wars (and the catastrophe of the aircraft carrier Vincennes is presented), to art and the kouros statues, to the leaders at the top of Fortune 500 companies.


For tasters, the job must be done in seconds, it is useless for someone to taste something and then expect some hours later to judge what they have experienced, and if we have trouble knowing if we have had Pepsi or Coca Cola in a glass, without being told, the professional tasters can tell you if the vanilla flavor from one drink comes from South America or some island in the Pacific, after the seconds it took for a sip.

Notwithstanding all that, maybe there is something else in that near miss, perhaps the woman was not all that divine, after all, and there will be plenty of arguments for that version of events in the following chapters.


Then there is The Gift of Fear, a classic of psychology, which I was not lucky to have read, but it is summarized in the marvelous 50 Psychology Classics by Tom Butler Bowden

we have a sense of danger when we find ourselves in perilous situations, as we read in the book, there is the example of the woman who had this inner alarm ringing, and when she went to the kitchen, this fellow was looking among the kitchen knives, to find one and attack her…happily, she escaped.


So was I sensing calamity, was she not that gorgeous, or was the fear of losing a lot of money, perhaps three thousand dollars, too overwhelming at that point (well, even today or at any other time) the main reason why I did not react in the first place to this attractive female, evidently available…

At least for a talk of some kind, or to punch me in the nose, but I mused over the prospect of losing money, the lawyer has just said that the document I had signed with the eejit who had wanted a loan would be good in some kind of court, but only for him to return the dollars at the official rate of exchange.


Which meant I would lose almost all, and that was so scary that I now think I could have had Mona Lisa, resurrected and exiting the most famous painting and still I would say to her ‘excuse me, but I am worried about my 3k’

On second thought, Mona Lisa is not really all that alluring and sexy, so just on her merits, it could be a no go, if she decides to show up in person, but it would still be something to catch the attention, especially if in the original costume with the famous smile and all…


However, after some of the above affected the perceptions, analysis (assuming I was able to do that, as an Angry Young Man) one or all of them would lapse and then I said to myself (probably, for much of that era is Gone Baby Gone) ‘hell, this woman was talking to your dog and said a few things to you’

You stupid fool, putain, what is wrong with you, she was not hideous, smiling and all that…get over there’


And yes, I followed in her footsteps, quickly enough to not lose sight and track of her, which if we investigate the past - as in The Daughter of Time by Josephine Fey once voted the best crime novel, where the detective debunks one of those stupid myths, and tells us that Richard III (‘now is the winter of our discontent turned into glorious summer by this son of York and all the clouds that loured upon our house, in the deep bosom of the ocean buried) was in fact no monster, but a good fellow – we realize that it must have taken only some seconds, so I should edit the above or just correct here.

I was no fool, if able to compute in seconds that yes, I will maybe, probably lose a few thousand (almost all there was really) but hey, there is Human Beauty on the street, waiting for you to come over, and…punch you in the face.

In the end, I would not lose the money, I assembled a team of mean looking fellas, friends and an uncle, and told the sob that had taken the loan and then assumed he is home free, no payback or anything that these four ferocious like types are the ones who need the money, and like Chili Palmer in Get Shorty ‘I am just the one telling him the way it is’ and so the thug paid it all back


After The Revolution, Episode 1, Revolutionary Realini Free At Last

An Alternative Present in The Man In The High Castle

73 out of 100 for Barbarian

joi, 17 noiembrie 2022

50 Psychology Classics by Tom Butler-Brown - 10 out of 10

 50 Psychology Classics by Tom Butler-Brown

10 out of 10



The under signed has been elated by reading this wonderful book nine years ago and I was so much exhilarated that I went on to read as many of the books included as I could find – though in a few cases the interest was limited to non-extant, in the cases of Freudian psychology, the opus looking at the psychology of children, Piaget – and some samples and links have been included from the notes that I have written on the works of Gladwell, Seligman, Berne, Daniel Gilbert and some that are not included in the 50 classics, such as Stefan Klein and his Happiness Formula, Sonja Lyubomirsky and The How of Happiness


Stumbling On Happiness by Harvard Professor Daniel Gilbert – there are some myths we believe in, regarding what makes us happy and one of the most common is that we think if we were to move to California, a Pacific or Caribbean island (not Cuba or Haiti though) we would be so happy…There is a phenomenon called Hedonic Adaptation which explains why, once we get there, we are not as happy as we thought, for we adapt to the pleasant Weather (unless, of course, there is a hurricane coming or a long period of draughts, serious wild fires, as California has experienced for so many years) and start noticing the problems, traffic, power cuts and ultra expensive energy (and almost anything else) on the islands… 


Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi is the co-founder of Positive Psychology and acclaimed author of Flow the classic from which we learn the conditions for Flow aka Peak Experience – getting involved in activities where we are challenged and furthermore Challenges Meet Expectations, we have Constant Feedback, we feel we Are In Control, One Must Have Clear Goals, Being in the Present, Altered Sense of Time and Egolessness are required and then we arrive into The Zone, we reach the zenith of maximum intensity…


Malcolm Gladwell has been included with his quintessential Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, which explains how Thin Slicing Theory Works, how we form opinions, take decisions in seconds and that often saves lives, in the case of medicine and in other fields, but it can also lead to tragic mistakes (the aircraft carrier Vincennes and the shooting down of an Iranian commercial aircraft is mentioned, together with the Diallo case) and we read about research involving CEOs of top Fortune 500 companies and the way their height demonstrates the notion that we do act upon opinions formed in the Blink of an Eye

Eric Berne has written the fabulous Games People Play and one of the most common games is IIWFY aka If It Weren’t For You, in which one spouse accuses the other of blocking their way to catharsis, when in fact they do not want to take that road in the first place, and probably had chosen their partner to have someone to blame – this is clearly a simplistic approach and it should take another of the classics to explain why I am taking these lines and (mis)interpret them in my own way, drawing conclusions which are not there


Harry Harlow is listed with The Nature of Love and though the purpose of his experiments was wonderful, hell is paved with good intentions’ and in the process of proving the importance of love in human life, many monkeys have been tortured, made to suffer tin the name of research, babies being taken away from their mothers and given cloth surrogates, or just wire contraptions…I have read two books that somehow relate to Harry Harlow’s experiments , We Are Completely Besides Ourselves and Love In Infant Monkeys


Nathaniel Branden has given audiences the chance to learn about self –esteem, with his quientessential The Six Pillars of Self – Esteem wherein he looks at what we can do to keep ourselves to a higerh level of appreciation, if we do not love ourselves, who will, one exercise that is also amusing would have us look at ourselves in the mirror, in the morning and say ‚i love and accpet myslef completly’ or something similar...

Nathaniel Branden is also the autor of The Psychological Effects of Religion another magnum opus which conlcudes that the effects of religion are bad, having an omiscent entity looking over our shoulder permanently, ready to punish any infringemnet, taking us to painful places for masturbating as a tenegaer, in our older years for instance can caus edamage, and there is the notion that this life is dsipensable, in view of the eternal one, which would cause so many to appreciate the only cance they have less than they must...


Though not included, i would like just to mention here some of the magicians that reading this book can lead audiences to meet, Magister Ludi like Sonja Lyubomirsky, with her Myths of Happiness, Ed Diener, and especially the Harvard Professor Tal Ben-Shahar, who has the most popular lectures in the history of Harvard


John Gottman


Sex and The Red City, Episode 6, After the Siesta, Maybe a Revolution

Listening to The Elephant To Hollywood by Michael Caine

76 out of 100 for The White lotus, Series 2, Episode 3

miercuri, 16 noiembrie 2022

The Russian Girl by Magister Ludi Kingsley Amis, author of one of The All-TIME 100 Novels, Lucky Jim and about another sixteen other masterpieces - 10 out of 10


The Russian Girl by Magister Ludi Kingsley Amis, author of one of The All-TIME 100 Novels, Lucky Jim and about another sixteen other masterpieces

10 out of 10



They have a warning at the news, when they are going to show you graphic images from a conflict zone, such as the war that the monster from the Kremlin has launched in Ukraine, and now there is maybe a need to say warning, this reader is such a fervent admirer of Kingsley Amis that he could be biased, and furthermore, the elation brought about by this Russian Girl could be seen as exaggerated by someone who is not so thrilled by the magnum opera of the one who was called the greatest writers of comedy in the second half of the twentieth century


Anna Danilova is The Russian Girl, and as such we could take her for the main character in this brilliant novel, but we could also argue that Doctor Richard Vasey is in fact the central figure in the saga, notwithstanding the fact that it is pointless to try and establish the primacy, eventually by counting the pages, the times when one or the other has something to say, never mind the relativity of all this, for how do we then measure the importance of one or other uttering, is her flexibility more relevant, or the compromise he may make, does she risk more, or is his position more fragile and dangerous.

The Russian Girl has come to England with a mission, she wants to save her brother from prison, where he had been for years and more recently, regardless of the end of his jail term, he is kept inside, without the prospect of early, or any kind of release- we have details from the background, however murky, confusing the situation is in the Soviet Union of the early nineties, when they have brought to power the young – especially when compared with previous dinosaurs – Mikhail Gorbatchev, and notwithstanding the fact that the novel does not detail the situation in the old USSR, there are constant hints, situations and attitudes that are explained using transaction or the culture of the place


Richard Vasey falls in love with her and wants to help, however difficult this will be, given the quandary, or nearly impossible situation he will find himself in, seeing as he finds the poetry of the Russian Girl terrible (some others will refer to is as ‘shit’) and thus he will have to make a choice, sign the petition to release her brother, which says that she is a great poet and hence give up all he values in his work, his professional integrity, or refuse to sign (at the head of the paper, as Crispin will have it) and therefore  provoke the end of the affair and destroy what has become the most important connection in his life…


Anna Danilova has a serious rival, Cordelia is the wife of the scholar and she is both hilarious and terrifying from one point on, she talks in a funny way, with ‘eggsbloding’ and ‘Greeg’ for Greek, but she has a very mean side, she only gives her husband cups of tea that are two thirds full, because the money belongs to her, and when she will get mad (spoiler alert, it will a Massive Attack, without the music of the band with that name) this frantic eejit blocks cards, empties bank accounts and embarks on a criminal offensive


Cordelia has a habit of calling up people to exploit them, to fetch fish and other small things she would much easier get in another way, but she is the sadistic type, and this modern Marquis De Sade has a sick pleasure in ordering about, her ex-husband, Godfrey (if that was his name, and not just something I misremember) tells the readers that she at once had several humans doing choirs for her, cleaning the house, arranging the food for large parties, where those unpaid in-effect-servants were not even invited to attend and were just doing these things because of the strain of masochism they must have had, but also, because they were extremely intrigued, puzzled by this extravagant, bizarre woman, who is hilarious in her ways in the first part, but becomes monstrous as we move on.

Indeed, there is dark humor in what Cordelia does, only the novel does gain intensity and becomes almost a thriller as we advance – presuming there is still someone reading at this stage, a spoiler alert might be needed, for some scenes here belong to the last chapters, which I thought marvelous, just like the rest in fact – and if in the beginning, the mischievous, sardonic, cutting, abusive spouse was provoking her husband, talking of the sexy voice on the phone, the Russian girl he now has, willing to meet her, interested in playing tricks and games with her, so that she might be humiliated and brought down, when the bond became stronger and she saw that she might lose Richard, the tactic changed.


He husband would reveal something from the past, and if this is revealed towards the end (the spoiler alert is still on, right?) it is still the added evidence that makes the case for sentencing this demon stronger (if there were such a court trial) for when Godfrey (or some other name) announced he is leaving his then wife, she would resort to the criminal underworld and have a whole building set on fire, in which one man was killed, and when the situation will be repeated with Richard, she has the same strategy, and when he wants to pay the bill at the hotel, he sees that he cannot, the police stop him on the street, because there is a complaint over the car, then at the house where Anna is staying with friends, the same thing happens, for they have had a call to investigate, and when he returns to ‘his house’, his key does not work anymore, and if Anna had entered the premises before, by just breaking a window, now Cordelia has installed an alarm, she as recorded the sounds of barking dogs that ‘seem to be the size of ponies’…furthermore, when he does get access into the interior, everything that he had had is gone, and I mean all, papers, clothes and any item has been sent for destruction


To make it amusing and somewhat terrifying, the thug moves on to destroy all the scholar has at the Institute, she takes revenge on poor Pat, for allowing Richard to enter briefly into his home, the poor woman will face shoplifting charges and more, and eventually, some criminals will tamper with the wheels of the car…

Sex and The Red City, Episode 5, After The Revolution

The Short Story Court of Inquiry by Magician Kingsley Amis

85 out of 100 for Inventing Anna