November 18, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

Crazy Rich Asians
-Kevin Kwan

October 20, 2015

Funk of the Day

Gato Barbieri (with Herb Alpert) 

September 29, 2015


Baseball Legend Yogi Berra Dies At 90

Died: September 22, 2015, West Caldwell, NJ


Yogi Berra, known as much for his quotable malapropisms as for his baseball career, has died at his home in New Jersey, according to Dave Kaplan, director of the Yogi Berra Museum. The Hall of Famer was 90 years old.
Berra was a Yankee alongside fellow legends Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle from 1949 to 1965, helping the team win 10 World Series championships. He played in more World Series (14) than any other major leaguer and was named MVP three times.
In the grueling role of catcher, Berra caught the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956. But his skill in the batter's box is what first made him famous — and feared.
Standing 5 foot 7 and weighing 185 pounds, Berra had a reputation for rising to any occasion. He drove in 100 or more runs in five seasons and flirted with the mark in four more. In the 75 World Series games he played, Berra struck out only 17 times.
"He was one of the most feared hitters the game had ever seen. Teammate Hector Lopez said, 'Yogi had the fastest bat I ever saw. He could hit a ball late, that was already past him, and take it out of the park. The pitchers were afraid of him because he'd hit anything, so they didn't know what to throw. Yogi had them psyched out and he wasn't even trying to psych them out.' "
Berra, born Lawrence Peter Berra in St. Louis, dropped out of school in eighth grade to go to work to support his family. Still, he went on to publish three books, including It Ain't Over... in 1989 and 1998's The Yogi Book: I Really Didn't Say Everything I Said, which made The New York Times best-seller list.

The Times obituary has a roundup of some of Berra's "both nonsensical and sagacious" Yogi-isms:

"'You can observe a lot just by watching,' he is reputed to have declared once, describing his strategy as a manager.
"'If you can't imitate him," he advised a young player who was mimicking the batting stance of the great slugger Frank Robinson, 'don't copy him.'
"'When you come to a fork in the road, take it,' he said while giving directions to his house. Either path, it turned out, got you there.


September 28, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

The Lost Daughter
-Elena Ferrante

September 20, 2015


Jackie Collins 
-Born Jacqueline Jill Collins 4 October 1937 Hampstead, London, England 
-Died 19 September 2015 (aged 77) Beverly Hills, California, United States

Best-Selling Novelist Jackie Collins Dies At 77

Best-selling novelist Jackie Collins has died of breast cancer at the age of 77. Collins' wildly popular books included the Lucky Santangelo series and Hollywood Wives and its sequels. Her latest book, The Santangelos, came out this summer; Collins gave numerous interviews about the book without mentioning her diagnosis or any treatments. PEOPLE magazine reports the English novelist had decided to keep her illness private, and that a few days before her death she told the magazine she had no regrets over that decision. Collin's novels, filled with glamour and high drama, sold more than 500 million copies. And her tales of life among the rich and famous in Hollywood were often inspired by real-life experiences. Jackie Collins' Mob Princess Serves Up A Cookbook You Can't Refuse April 12, 2014 As a teenager, she followed the lead of her older sister, Joan Collins, and was briefly an actress. But in an interview with NPR last year, Jackie Collins said she knew movies weren't going to be her life. "I was always an out-of-work writer," she said. "So I wrote a book called The World is Full of Married Men," she said. "I found that in my teenage years married men would be chasing me everywhere and going, 'Oh, yeah, well, my wife is different, but you know, she doesn't really understand me.' ... I wanted to write and turn the double standard on its head." Not all her books centered on the Hollywood elite; the Lucky Santangelo series revolved around the daughter of a mob boss. "She's such a brilliant character because she does all the things that women would like to do, she says all the things they would like to say — and she gets away with it," Collins said. In their statement, Collins' family described a "wonderfully full life" and four decades spent entertaining readers. "She was a true inspiration, a trail blazer for women in fiction and a creative force," the family statement continued. "We already miss her beyond words."


September 17, 2015

Vintage TV Show Theme Song

 Mary Tyler Moore Show

Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it's you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all

How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you're all alone
But it's time you started living
It's time you let someone else do some giving

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don't you take it
You're gonna make it after all
You're gonna make it after all

Funk of the Day

Joe Bataan

Album Cover

Best Of New York Sessions, Vol. 1

Literary Pick (****)

-Charles Bukowski

It's quite possible I enjoyed this novel just as much as I did "women", which has been my favorite of his for a long time. No other writer makes me laugh out loud the way Bukowski does.

September 7, 2015

Vintage TV Show Theme Song

Good Times

Good Times.
Any time you meet a payment. - Good Times.
Any time you meet a friend. - Good Times.
Any time you're out from under.
Not getting hassled, not getting hustled.
Keepin' your head above water,
Making a wave when you can.

Temporary lay offs. - Good Times.
Easy credit rip offs. - Good Times.
Scratchin' and surviving. - Good Times.
Hangin' and a' jiving- Good Times.
Ain't we lucky we got 'em - Good Times.

Just lookin' out of the window.
Watchin' the asphalt grow.
Thinkin' how it all looks hand-me-down.
Good Times, yeah, yeah Good Times

Keepin' your head above water
Makin' a wave when you can

Temporary lay offs. - Good Times.
Easy credit rip offs. - Good Times.
Hangin' in a challenge - Good Times
Scratchin' and a'hustlin'. - Good Ti-imes
Ain't we lucky we got 'em - Good Times.

Literary Pick (****)

A Death in the Family
-James Agee

One of my biggest fears is losing my partner in the same manner Mary lost Jay. I guess you could say it's one of the reasons I wanted to read this book. It's one of those novels that really hits home, and stirs up your deepest and darkest fears. My favorite part of the novel was when Mary's father pulled her to the side after Jay's death, and gave her the most tender words of solace and advice a father could give a daughter at a time like that. It most definitely was a depressing read, but very insightful, and will stay with me always.

September 5, 2015

Acid Jazz

 Thievery Corporation- Om Lounge

Album Cover

Joe Bataan 
Mr. New York and the East Side Kids

September 1, 2015

Funk of the Day

Bobby Hutcherson San Francisco featuring Harold Land

Bobby Hutcherson's late-'60s partnership with tenor saxophonist Harold Land had always produced soulful results, but not until San Francisco did that translate into a literal flirtation with funk and rock. After watching several advanced post-bop sessions gather dust in the vaults, Hutcherson decided to experiment with his sound a bit, but San Francisco still doesn't wind up the commercial jazz-funk extravaganza that purists might fear. Instead, Hutcherson and Land stake out a warm and engaging middle ground between muscular funk and Coltrane-style modality; in other words, they have their cake and eat it too. Joined by pianist/keyboardist Joe Sample (also of the Jazz Crusaders), acoustic/electric bassist John Williams, and drummer Mickey Roker, Hutcherson and Land cook up a series of spacious, breezy grooves that sound unlike any other record in the vibist's discography (even his more commercial fusion sessions). The selections -- all group-member originals -- often skirt the edges of fusion, but rarely play it as expected; they might float some spare tradeoffs over a loping, heavy bass groove, throw in an oboe solo by Land, or -- as on the slowest piece -- keep time only with intermittently spaced piano chords. It's all done with enough imagination and harmonic sophistication to achieve the rare feat of holding appeal for traditional jazz and rare-groove fans alike. It's a shame Hutcherson didn't explore this direction more, because San Francisco is not only one of his best albums, but also one of his most appealing and accessible. [Note: The song descriptions in the liner notes often match up with different titles on the CD reissue, suggesting that the tracks may have been scrambled to a startling degree. If the liners are correct, the actual CD running order is "A Night in Barcelona," "Goin' Down South," "Procession," "Ummh," "Jazz," and "Prints Tie."] 

A Night in Barcelona

August 31, 2015


Wes Craven
Born: August 2, 1939, Cleveland, OH
Died: August 30, 2015, Los Angeles, CA

Wes Craven, the legendary horror director behind the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises, has died at 76.
His verified Twitter account posted about his death Sunday evening. The Associated Press reports that he had brain cancer and died in his Los Angeles home, according to a statement from his family.
Craven's early life didn't presage a career in horror films. He was raised in a fundamentalist Baptist household, and went to a Christian college — one where, he told the Los Angeles Times in 2010, "you would be expelled if you were caught in a movie theater."
Before his career as a horror movie maestro, Craven had a life in academia — he earned a master's degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins University, and worked as an English professor. He also directed pornography before making his mark on the slasher genre.
In the '70s and early '80s, Craven directed Last House on the Left, which quickly established his horror bona fides, followed by films including The Hills Have Eyes and Swamp Thing.
Then, in 1984, he released A Nightmare On Elm Street — starring a 21-year-old unknown named Johnny Depp.
With the release, the AP notes, Craven "was credited with reinventing the teen horror genre" — not to mention starting an enormously successful series.
The famously prolific director went on to launch the popular Scream franchise in the '90s. Like much of his work, the Scream movies mixed slasher gore with wry humor. He departed from the horror genre to direct Music of the Heart, a drama starring Meryl Streep, which was nominated for two Oscars.
Most recently, he served as executive producer for The Girl in the Photographs, which is debuting at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

August 28, 2015

Quote of the day

“If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!” 
John Waters 

July 24, 2015

Literary Pick (****)

The Pleasures of the Damned
-Charles Bukowski

July 23, 2015

Literary Pick (**)

-Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

July 12, 2015

Cultural News

Kate Middleton, Wife Of Prince William, Has A Baby Girl


The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a girl, Kensington Palace has announced.
The princess - who is fourth in line to the throne - was "safely delivered" at 08:34 BST, the palace statement said.
The Duke of Cambridge, who was present for the birth of the 8lbs 3oz (3.7kg) baby girl, brought his 21-month-old son Prince George to visit his sister at St Mary's Hospital, west London.
The couple and their daughter will leave hospital on Saturday evening.
They will travel home to Kensington Palace, where Prince George has now returned.
In a statement, Kensington Palace said: "Their Royal Highnesses would like to thank all staff at the hospital for the care and treatment they have all received.
"They would also like to thank everyone for their warm wishes."
As he left the hospital briefly to pick up his son, Prince William told the waiting crowds the couple were "very happy".
Both Catherine and her daughter are "doing well", Kensington Palace said. The name of the baby will be announced in due course.
For live updates click here and for the royal baby special report, click here.
The Prince of Wales, who had earlier said he was hoping for a grand-daughter, and the Duchess of Cornwall said they were "absolutely delighted".

The duchess had been admitted to the private Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, west London, at 06:00 BST.
The birth announcement came just after 11:00 BST.
The statement from Kensington Palace added: "The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Harry and members of both families have been informed and are delighted with the news."
The latest royal joins the line of succession behind her grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William and brother Prince George, who was born at the same hospital in July 2013.
The princess is the Queen's fifth great-grandchild.

Hundreds of well-wishers have gathered outside St Mary's Hospital to catch a first glimpse of the new princess.
Some are seasoned royal watchers. Margaret Tyler, 71 from Wembley, north-west London, has been waiting for the last 11 days: "But no nights, I'm too old for that now".
Meanwhile, Ash decided to bring his young daughter Ankita to mark the historic event. "We moved to London from the US nine years ago," he said. "I wanted to go and see Will and Kate's wedding but my wife thought I was mad."
There has been lots of speculation about a name from small girls in the crowd, from Disney-inspired Belle and Ariel to Alex, Stella and Rose.
And everyone wants a selfie with Tony Appleton, who runs a care home in Chelmsford, Essex, but has been a town crier for 30 years and stood on the steps of the Lindo wing to announce the news. 

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their baby girl. I'm absolutely delighted for them."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tweeted that he and his wife Miriam wished the family "all the best".
And Labour leader Ed Miliband wrote: "Congratulations to the duke and duchess on the birth of their daughter. Wishing them lots of joy and happiness - and hopefully some sleep!"
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said: "It's wonderful news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have a healthy new baby girl.
"Like many here and abroad, I'm delighted for the royal couple on this special day. May God bless them and both of their children with love, health and joy."

A large number of journalists, photographers and broadcasters had gathered after the announcement that Catherine was in labour.
Following the announcement of the birth, standing on the steps of the Lindo Wing, unofficial town crier Tony Appleton told crowds: "We welcome with humble duty the new baby of their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"The princess is fourth in line to the throne."
BBC royal correspondent Daniela Relph said the decision to leave the hospital would ultimately be a medical decision, but the duke and duchess would be acutely aware of the disruption their presence brings to the hospital.
There has been much speculation about the princess's name, with Alice being the favourite with several bookmakers. Charlotte, Elizabeth and Diana have also been popular with punters.
Prince George's name was announced two days after his birth, which is a relatively quick turnaround compared with previous royal babies.
It was seven days before the name of a newborn Prince William was announced in 1982, and there was a wait of a month following Prince Charles's birth in 1948.

The new royal will not be overtaken in the line of succession by any future younger brothers.
Under new rules which came into force in March, male bias was removed from the succession rules.
She will also be known as Princess of Cambridge after a letters patent were issued by the Queen.
It declared: "All the children of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales should have and enjoy the style, title and attribute of royal highness with the titular dignity of prince or princess prefixed to their Christian names or with such other titles of honour".
And the princess will also be able to marry a Roman Catholic without losing her place in line to the throne.


Literary Pick of the Day (***)

The Book of Joan
-Melissa Rivers


Omar Sharif
Born: April 10, 1932, Alexandria, Egypt
Died: July 10, 2015, Cairo, Egypt

Remembering Omar Sharif, A Star In Two Skies
Legendary Egyptian actor Omar Sharif died today in Cairo, according to his agent. He was 83.
Sharif hit it big starring in 1960s epic dramas such as Doctor Zhivago, and the movie that introduced him to world audiences: Lawrence of Arabia.
In that film, he first appears on the back of a camel, dressed as a Bedouin in headscarf and robes, brandishing a rifle as he rides toward a well where Peter O'Toole's Lawrence and his guide are drinking. He drops the guide with one shot.

As Sharif emerges from the desert, you see an actor who looks nothing like the movie stars audiences were used to, nothing like O'Toole's blond, blue-eyed good looks. Sharif is handsome, with a square face, dark, moody eyes, the signature mustache — and, the moment he opens his mouth, that accent.
"The scene at the well is a clip, whenever they show the Academy Awards, it's used continuously," says film scholar Jack Shaheen. The brutal scene is iconic, he adds, but it doesn't do justice to Sharif's performance. "He's really sort of like the nonviolent second protagonist of the film. He's articulate, he's sensitive, he's bright, he shows compassion for other people." And you can see how his relationship to the Englishman becomes much richer over the course of the movie.
"He was selected by David Lean not to portray the stereotypical Arab — the Arab sheik, the Arab terrorist, the Arab buffoon — rather, in Lawrence of Arabia you have a bona fide Arab freedom fighter," Shaheen continues. In 1962, not long after Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser set off an international crisis by nationalizing the Suez Canal, an Egyptian actor might not have been a popular choice. "And yet he took, I think, audiences by storm."
While to Hollywood audiences it might have seemed that Sharif appeared out of nowhere, he had actually done more than 20 black-and-white dramas in Cairo, the film capital of the Arab world. And even in his Arabic films, there's a clue he was going for international appeal: his billing. "Omar Sharif" was not the name given to him by his well-to-do, Catholic parents.

"My name was Michel," he told NPR in 2012. Michel Shalhoub, to be exact. In his memoir, he wrote about wanting an Arab-sounding name that was easy to pronounce in different languages — essential to a man who spoke not just Arabic but also French and English. "I went to the school where the priests were French. And then after, when I was 9 or 8 years old, I went to an English school — thank God. And there was a theater there. And that's how I started to become an actor."

Egyptian director Asaad Kelada says this multicultural preparation meant Sharif "was able to travel from nationality to nationality with conviction in the roles that he played. And so he was really the go-to person for any role that was of an exotic or different nature at that time."
For his next big film after Lawrence of Arabia, Sharif transformed himself from an Arab freedom fighter to a Russian revolutionary poet in Doctor Zhivago. For three hours, Sharif carries this film — he treats patients and navigates politics, dotes on his wife and dreams with his mistress.

Jack Shaheen says that over the course of Sharif's decades-long career, the range of his roles only expanded. "Well, he played Che Guevara. He played a German officer, and a Turkish Muslim, and the Jew Nicky Arnstein," opposite Barbra Streisand in 1968's Funny Girl. She plays comedienne and radio star Fanny Brice; he's her love interest — a dark and handsome gambler.
Though in some ways it may have been a stretch for him, the role of Nicky Arnstein had some echoes of Sharif's real life. That's because outside of acting, playing cards was his other love. He wrote a slew of books — including a memoir titled Omar Sharif's Life in Bridge — and even made instructional videos. So during the poker scenes in Funny Girl, it can feel like a glimpse of Sharif doing both things he loved at once.
Delightful though it was, Funny Girl caused some political ripples when it came out in 1968. Here was an Egyptian actor singing duets and kissing a Jewish woman not long after the Six Day War between Israel and Arab nations. Asaad Kelada says the movie caused Sharif a lot of trouble back home in Egypt. "But as an artist, he played that role of Nicky Arnstein and was able to make it accessible and believable to audiences worldwide."
Sharif will be remembered for being the first to make that remarkable leap — from Cairo to Hollywood, and on to a place in history as one of the most famous movie stars of his time.


July 6, 2015

Cultural News

Maria Leaves Sesame Street After 44 Years On The Block

 Gordon (played by Roscoe Orman), Maria (played by Sonia Manzano), and The Count on Sesame Street's 42nd season. Manzano is closing out a Sesame Street career that began in 1971.
Zach Hyman/Sesame Street 
For the last 44 years, you could ask Maria how to get to Sesame Street, but not any more. Sonia Manzano, the actress who has played the character since 1971, is retiring and won't be part of the next season.
Manzano, 65, announced the news earlier this week at the American Library Association Annual Conference.
On the show, Maria owned the Fix-It shop, repairing all sorts of things, including a lot of toasters, with her husband Luis, writes the Associated Press:

"In confirming Manzano's retirement, Sesame Workshop said 'she will always be a part of the fabric of our neighborhood. During her 44-year career as the iconic "Maria," and the first leading Latina woman on television, she was a role model for young girls and women for generations.' "
The AV Club writes that she was nominated for an Emmy Award twice as an actress but didn't win. She did win 15 of the awards as a scriptwriter for the show.
Manzano grew up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood in the Bronx. She attended Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Her acting career began when she was in the original cast of Godspell, a musical which began as a student production on campus, according to the AP.
She talked about Sesame Street at the ALA conference:

"Sesame Street, as everyone knows, was set in the inner city and there was a particular reason for that. Our first target audience were the children in the inner city that were underserved. And we thought that if they learned their basic cognitive skills, they could start kindergarten on an even level with their middle-class peers. And it was a very idealistic time — we thought we'd, like, close the education gap by doing that.
"But the first thing we had do to was make sure kids in the inner city could relate to us, and what better way to do that than have the show come to them from a place that was familiar to them. And the stoop in Harlem was the most familiar to them."
Here's a clip of Maria helping Oscar the Grouch:

How will Sesame Street solve the problem of Maria's absence? The AP says that Sesame Workshop hasn't explained how that will play out on the show.


June 24, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

-Anya Peters

Literary Pick (****)

Kitchen Confidential
-Anthony Bourdain

Belated RIP

Anne Meara
Born: September 20, 1929, Brooklyn, New York City, NY

As one-half of the country's most renowned and universally beloved comedy duos, Anne Meara charmed millions with her hilarious and sometimes absurd banter with real-life husband Jerry Stiller. Known by many simply as Stiller and Meara, the pair incorporated their personal anecdotes - from relationship squabbles, to personality differences and cultural clashes - into their decades-long comedy act. Stiller and Meara's routine garnered national attention after numerous appearances on the seminal variety series "The Ed Sullivan Show" (CBS, 1948-1971). Apart from her husband, Meara also established a successful career as a hardworking actress, appearing in feature films and making memorable guest appearances on shows such as "The King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007) and "Sex and the City" (HBO, 1998-2004) throughout her career. Dedicated not only to her craft, but also to her family - raising their son, blockbuster movie star Ben Stiller - Meara shared her life with the world and made it collectively laugh, a feat that could only be accomplished by a true comedy legend.

June 1, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

The Tao of Humiliation
-Lee Upton

Honor Spotlight

Omayra Sánchez Garzón (August 28, 1972 – November 16, 1985) was a Colombian girl killed in Armero, department of Tolima, by the 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano when she was 13 years old. Volcanic debris mixed with ice to form massive lahars (volcanically induced mudslides, landslides, and debris flows) that rushed into the river valleys below the mountain, killing nearly 25,000 people and destroying Armero and 13 other villages.
After a lahar demolished her home, Sánchez became pinned beneath the debris of her house, where she remained trapped in water for three days. Her plight was documented as she descended from calmness into agony. Her courage and dignity touched journalists and relief workers, who put great efforts into comforting her. After 60 hours of struggling, she died, likely as a result of either gangrene or hypothermia. Her death highlighted the failure of officials to respond promptly to the threat of the volcano, contrasted with the efforts of volunteer rescue workers to reach and treat trapped victims, despite a dearth of supplies and equipment.
Sánchez became internationally famous through a photograph of her taken by the photojournalist Frank Fournier shortly before she died. When published worldwide it generated considerable controversy; it was later designated the World Press Photo of the Year for 1985. Sánchez has remained a lasting figure in popular culture, remembered through music, literature, and commemorative articles.

Literary Pick of the Day (***)

28 Stories of AIDS in Africa
-Stephanie Nolen

Stephanie Nolen writes 28 compelling stories of people living with AIDS in Africa, and the bureaucracy that surrounds the availability of antiretroviral drugs and care.

May 20, 2015


B.B. King
(September 16, 1925 – May 14, 2015)







B.B. King Was the Blues

The guitarist, dead at 89, built himself into the figurehead of the genre.
In 1949, the legend goes, B.B. King ran into a burning building to save a guitar he loved. The dance hall he’d been playing at in Twist, Arkansas, caught flame when two men knocked over a barrel of fuel while fighting about a woman. The woman’s name was Lucille—and from that point on, King’s guitar was named Lucille, too.
Though Gibson would later launch a B.B. King Lucille model, and King indeed favored that company’s instruments, there wasn’t just one Lucille. Most any guitar he’d play would get the name.
Much like how the name came to stand in for the instrument, King’s name came to stand, in the public’s imagination, for the kind of music he played. When people today talk about the blues, they’re talking in part about B.B. King; when they talk about B.B. King, they’re talking about the blues. The two concepts are the same.

Credit that fact to King’s talent, which launched him from Mississippi sharecropper to worldwide sensation who influenced generations of musicians. “The tone he got out of that guitar, the way he shook his left wrist, the way he squeezed the strings ... man, he came out with that and it was all new to the whole guitar playin' world,” guitarist and friend Buddy Guy wrote today on Instagram upon learning that King had died at age 89. “He could play so smooth, he didn't have to put on a show. The way BB did it is the way we all do it now.”
But also credit King’s work ethic and his personal vision. He called himself an “ambassador of the blues,” and it was a title he lived up to. “B.B.” was short for “Blues Boy,” his handle as a disk jockey when he worked at a Memphis station in the late 40s; he kept evangelizing for the blues on the radio for much of his life, and still has a Sirius XM channel in his name. In the last three decades, he established a chain of blues clubs that remain vibrant outposts for the genre in places from Times Square to Miami to Las Vegas, the city he made his home since 1975. Most importantly, he toured constantly, playing hundreds of dates a year right up until the fall of 2014.
The whole time, he and his guitar kept telling the story of his life, and the story of the blues. “Lucille took me from the plantation and, you might say, brought me fame,” he sings on the title track of his 1968 album Lucille, on which he tells the story of his guitar’s naming. The song’s more than 10 minutes long, with King’s tangled, mournful solos communicating more about the instrument’s power than words ever could.Sounds pretty good to me, can I do one more?” King asks, toward the end. “Look out, Lucille. Sounds really good, I think I'll try one more.” Of course, there would be one more after that, and after that.

April 30, 2015

Quote of the Day

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” 
Frederick Douglass

April 19, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

Fun Home a Family Tragicomedy
-Alison Bechdel

This tragi-comeday brought out too many old skeletons from my closet.. a little too shrinky for my taste.

Belated RIP

Roberto Gómez Bolaños
Born: February 21, 1929, Mexico City, Mexico
Died: November 28, 2014, Cancún, Mexico 

Roberto Gómez Bolaños ("Chespirito," "el Chavo del 8") (1929-2014):
Roberto Gómez Bolaños was a Mexican writer and actor, known around the world for his characters “El Chavo del 8” and “El Chapulín Colorado,” among others. He was involved in Mexican television for over forty years, and generations of children all over the Spanish-speaking world have grown up watching his shows.
Early Life:
Born into a middle-class family in Mexico City in 1929, Roberto studied engineering but never worked in the field. In his early twenties, he was already writing screenplays and scripts for television shows. He also wrote songs and scripts for radio shows. Between 1960 and 1965 the two top shows on Mexican television, “Cómicos y Canciones” (comics and songs) and “El Estudio de Pedro Vargas” (Pedro Vargas’ study) were both written by Chespirito. It was about this time that he earned the nickname “Chespirito” from the director Agustín P. Delgado: it is a version of “Shakespearito,” or “Little Shakespeare.”
Writing and Acting:
In 1968, Chespirito signed a contract with the newly-formed TIM (Televisión Independiente de México) network. Among the terms of his contract was a half hour slot on Saturday afternoons over which he had complete autonomy: he could do with it whatever he wanted. The brief, hilarious sketches he wrote and produced were so popular that the network switched his time to Monday night

and gave him a whole hour. It was during this show, simply called “Chespirito,” that his two most beloved characters, El Chavo del 8 (“The Boy From Number Eight”) and El Chapulín Colorado(The Red Grasshopper) made their debut.

The Chavo and the Chapulín:
These two characters were so popular with the viewing public that the network gave them each their own weekly half-hour series. El Chavo del 8 is an eight-year old boy (played by Chespirito well into his sixties) who gets into adventures with his group of friends: he lives in apartment #8, hence the name. Like Chavo, the other characters in the series, Don Ramón, Quico, and other people from the neighborhood, are iconic, beloved, classic characters of Mexican television. El Chapulín Colorado, or the Red Grasshopper, is a superhero, but an exceedingly dimwitted one, who foils the bad guys through luck and honesty.
A Television Dynasty:
These two shows were immensely popular, and by 1973 were being transmitted to all of Latin America. In Mexico, it is estimated that 50 to 60 percent of all televisions in the country were tuned into the shows when they aired. Chespirito kept the Monday night time slot, and for 25 years, every Monday night, most of Mexico watched his show. Although the show ended in the 1990’s, reruns are still shown regularly all over Latin America.
Other Projects:
Chespirito, a tireless worker, also appeared in movies and on stage. When he took the cast of “Chespirito” on a tour of stadiums to reprise their famous roles on stage, the shows sold out, including two consecutive dates at the Santiago stadium, which seats 80,000 people. He wrote several telenovelas (soap operas), movie scripts and even a book of poetry. In his later years, he became more politically active, campaigning for certain candidates and vocally opposing an initiative to legalize abortion in Mexico.
Chespirito received countless awards. In 2003 he was awarded the keys to the city of Cicero, Illinois. Mexico has even released a series of postage stamps in his honor.
Chespirito passed away on November 28, 2014, of heart failure, at the age of 85. His movies, telenovelas, plays and books all succeeded greatly, but it is for his work in television that Chespirito will be best remembered. Chespirito will always be known as a pioneer of Latin American television and one of the most creative writers and actors ever to work in the field. His legacy continues today: the animated series “El Chavo del 8,” launched in 2006, is very popular. The shows continue to be aired around the world, reaching yet another generation of young Latin Americans.

April 7, 2015

Behind the scenes

Julia Child

March 18, 2015

Quote of the Day

“Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.”
— Tacitus, C. (A.D. 55-120)

March 5, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

A Child Called "It"
-Dave Pelzer

A story too traumatizing to read. I still cringe when I think of the abuse this poor child had to endure in the hands of his mother, a tragic abuse that was witnessed by his father who did nothing to stop it. Sad to think there are children out there right now suffering this badly. My heart aches for them.

Literary Pick (****)

Love Lucy
-Lucille Ball

Literary Pick (*)

The Hedgehog and the Fox
-Isaiah Berlin

February 6, 2015

Literary Pick (**)

Dark Places
-Gillian Flynn

Simply one of the most idiotic pieces of crap I've ever read.

January 27, 2015

Literary Pick(***)

The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories, China from the Bottom Up 
-Liao Yiwu 

Very interesting interviews. Every single story was fascinating. I learned a lot about China during Mao's regime.

January 23, 2015

Literary Pick (****)

The Elephant Vanishes
-Haruki Murakami

Not a fan of short stories, but this has to be one of the better ones I've read by Murakami, or anyone for that matter.

Literary Pick (***)

Touch Me
-Yoko Ono

I appreciate the installation, but there was really nothing to the book. There are only about 4-5 readable pages. Wish there was more information about both the artist and installation.


There's a Bluebird In My Heart
-Charles Bukowski
there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I'm too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I'm not going
to let anybody see

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out.
but I'm too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there's a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out.
but I'm too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody's asleep..
I say, I know that you're there,
so don't be sad.

then I put him back,
but he's singing a little
in there, I haven't quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it's nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don't
weep, do

January 7, 2015

Literary Pick (***)

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings -Michelle Knight

Literary Pick (***)

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education And Was Shot By The Taliban
-Malala Yousafzai

January 1, 2015

Literary Pick (**)

There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up In The Other America
-Alex Kotlowitz


Edward Herrmann, an Emmy- and Tony-winning actor who portrayed Franklin D. Roosevelt, narrated History Channel documentaries and became a prime-time television star in the long-running series "Gilmore Girls," died Wednesday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He was 71.
He had brain cancer, said his agent, Robyn Stecher.

FOR THE RECORD: A previous version of this article said that Edward Herrmann graduated from Bucknell in 1955. It was 1965.

The 6-foot-5 actor schooled in London was a natural to play aristocrats and authority figures. He portrayed Nelson Rockefeller in Oliver Stone's 1995 biopic "Nixon" and William Randolph Hearst in Peter Bogdanovich's 2001 film "The Cat's Meow."
But for many TV viewers Herrmann was indelibly linked to FDR, playing him in the 1976 ABC miniseries "Eleanor and Franklin" and a 1977 sequel, "Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years," both of which brought the actor Emmy nominations.
He also portrayed the 32nd president in the 1982 movie musical "Annie" and was FDR's voice in the recent Ken Burns documentary series for PBS, "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History."
Herrmann "brings the man to life again here — and does so with such authority and accuracy, that his vocal impersonation stands proudly alongside recordings of the real Franklin," David Bianculli said in his review of the 14-hour nonfiction epic that aired in September.

The seasoned actor brought the same gravity to hosting and narrating dozens of other documentaries on PBS and the History Channel, including a 1998 Burns biography of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
His roles over a four-decade career also included a number of decidedly less weighty characters. He was the Frankensteinian Herman Munster in a 1995 Fox TV movie revival of the popular 1960s sitcom about a family of Transylvanians in suburban America. He played the head of a vampire gang in the satirical 1987 film "The Lost Boys" and a wacky inventor in 1975's "The Great Waldo Pepper."
He once said that playing Munster was harder than playing Roosevelt.

"You have to play Herman absolutely sincerely, absolutely straight," Herrmann told the Chicago Tribune in 1995. "Once you get the audience to believe in you, don't betray the situation by winking and nudging. When you're driving that hearse, you've got a job at last, and you've got to think it's the greatest thing in the world."
Herrmann won an Emmy in 1999 for his guest role in the ABC legal drama "The Practice" and in recent years appeared in several episodes of "The Good Wife."
He won a Tony in 1976 for his portrait of a charming ne'er-do-well in George Bernard Shaw's "Mrs. Warren's Profession," starring with Ruth Gordon and Lynn Redgrave, who also won a Tony. He earned raves for his star turn in David Hare's "Plenty" on Broadway in 1983.
Edward Kirk Herrmann was born July 21, 1943, in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Grosse Pointe, Mich., an affluent Detroit suburb. His father was an auto executive, his mother a schoolteacher.
He graduated from Pennsylvania's Bucknell University in 1965 with a degree in English. He later went to England on a Fulbright scholarship and studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
"At that time in the '60s in the United States, you were a movie actor or a TV actor or a stage actor — you just didn't cross-pollinate," he recalled in Back Stage West in 2003.
He came to envy English actors because they "could do a West End farce, and then Hamlet, and then a radio play at the BBC — you could have a multifaceted life.… As luck would have it, I've been able to have the career I wanted in London over here."
He began his acting career on the stage, apprenticing in Dallas regional theater before making his New York debut in a 1971 Joseph Papp production of David Rabe's Vietnam War drama "The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel."
Movie roles soon followed. His more than 45 credits include "The Paper Chase" (1973), "Reds" (1981), "The Purple Rose of Cairo" (1985), "The Aviator" (2004) and "The Wolf of Wall Street" (2013).
He found his largest, and most youthful, audience when he became Richard Gilmore, the head of a WASPy, fictional Connecticut family whose trials and tribulations were the subject of the highly rated comedy-drama "Gilmore Girls," which debuted on the WB network in 2000 and ran for seven years.

"I wanted to do WB because your audience gets old. You've got to reinvent yourself," he told Associated Press in 2004.
Herrmann also was the TV spokesman for Dodge for eight years, although his own taste in cars ran to classics like the LeBaron-bodied Packard 120 B he once entered in the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Although the car failed to win its class, its owner was invited to serve as the competition's master of ceremonies, a role he filled for more than a decade.
His first marriage, to actress Leigh Curran, ended in divorce. Herrmann is survived by his wife, Star; a brother, John; a son, Rory; daughters Ryen and Emma; and a granddaughter.