Monday, July 28, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday

If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
-- John F. Kennedy --

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

From One To Ten

How adorable is my cat, from one to ten?
You already know my own opinion on this subject, but I want yours.
[NOTE: No fractions or decimal-points in your answer are allowed, because there is nothing half-gorgeous, about my cat! Only whole integers will be accepted.]


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Some Recent Reading...

Just a few words about the last five books I've read.
The Sea, by John Banville. I can never get enough of this guy's writing. The Sea won the Man Booker Prize [2005] and I finally got around to reading it. It is written in a first-person memoir style -- the story of an aging man who has just lost his wife to cancer. He returns to the seaside resort where he spent his formative years as a child and there reminisces about his first loves, trying to make sense of his present via reviewing the past. It is a deeply moving novel and probably my favourite among the many Banville books I have read.
Room, by Emma Donoghue. Five-year old Jack and his mother are imprisoned in an 11' X 11' shed in the backyard of the psycho-pervert who abducted her.  "Ma" has been in there for seven years and the outside world has given up the search for her. Due to her abductor's… visits, she has given birth to Jack while in her confinement, and the only world he knows is that of "Room". The story is told in his voice, and at first I felt like I was going to really get sick of the baby talk, and everything being seen from his perspective. But amazingly, the thing really takes off and we get to know the backstory in unexpected ways. Ma concocts an escape plan -- but it can only be successful through her son Jack as the principal actor. Wow, when they set it in play, I literally could not put the book down. It's an amazing, relevant, but disturbing story. Riveting, and all-too believable. Not recommended for claustrophobics.
The Sea Is My Brother, by Jack Kerouac. My first Kerouac book happens to also be his first one. This is considered a "lost" novel, written when Kerouac was a mere 21 years of age. It's the story of two adventurous guys who sign up with the Merchant Marines. It's got that whole Kerouacian "let's run away from the world of responsibilities and see how much booze we can drink and how many parties we can attend" feel to it. It was fun to read, but not something I am about to croon about. Maybe I need to read some of the later Kerouac to appreciate him better.
When Nietzsche Wept, by Irvin D. Yalom. Oh, truly a great book, my favourite of the five shown here. In 19th Century Vienna, Josef Breuer, one of the founding fathers of psychoanalysis [a real life person] is approached by a beautiful woman with a strange request. She wants him to counsel a friend of hers who is lost in a state of suicidal depression. The friend is none other than Friedrich Nietzsche. And wow is he depressed! The meeting takes place, and all the while Nietzsche is not aware that it has been all arranged and orchestrated by his friend. The reader is aware that this all takes place at a time when psychoanalysis [or "the talking method"] was not practised. And an interesting thing happens. It turns out that the doctor, [Breuer] has some very debilitating  issues of his own to deal with. And as he begins to divulge these to Nietzsche, the tables are quickly turned. The doctor becomes the patient. And a friendship is born. Now Breuer is fraught with the knowledge of the duplicity behind it all, in its beginnings. Each man receives what they need in the way of wisdom and counsel, by way of the friendship that develops. It's a very worthwhile story, with cameo appearances by none other than Sigmund Freud. It makes me want to read everything Yalom has written, or is writing.
Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. I think she is one of the best writers out there today. The book "weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia." I took that from the dust jacket. Kingsolver, a biologist, always laces her novels with gorgeous descriptions of nature -- natural things, in the wild -- and this book is no exception. Sorry to be so vague about the book itself, but maybe I will just end with this -- "I really liked it."


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

People in general attach too much importance to words. They are under the illusion that talking effects great results. As a matter of fact, words are, as a rule, the shallowest portion of the argument. They but dimly represent the great surging feelings and desires which lie behind. When the distraction of the tongue is removed, the heart listens.
-- Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie --

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Splash du Jour: Monday

In Room me and Ma had time for everything. I guess the time gets spread very thin like butter over all the world, the roads and houses and playgrounds and stores, so there's only a little smear of time on each place, then everyone has to hurry on the next bit.
-- Emma Donoghue, Room --

Have a great Monday!

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Rant About Texting

I've said it before and I'll say it again [apparently] -- but I am a real techno-dinosaur. It's amazing that I even know how to blog!
I still do not own a cell-phone, hence I do not text. I do not Tweet and/or Twitter. Instagram does not intrigue me and I'm not on Facebook. As I've said before on Bookpuddle, I have real issues with social media in general. I admit that there are certain [positive] capabilities with our current state of over-connection with others, but it seems to be one of those things that do not lend themselves well to "moderation". It's the addictive nature of over-connection that I tend to criticize. It seems to me to be something we should be wary of. [Read Dave Eggers' novel The Circle -- 'nuff said!]
And I'm convinced that there are subtle dangers inherent in the willful self-abnegation of one's privacy.
But enough about me and my issues.
I love Louis C.K.
I think he is the funniest comedian on the planet, really. And recently I discovered these two clips where he echoes my exact feelings about social media in such a hilarious way -- well, I just think you should watch it, too. They are from two visits to the Conan O'Brien show. I always love it when astute comedians like George Carlin or Louis C.K. hit upon things we all know to be true, and make us laugh about it. Trust me, this **** is funny!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Splash du Jour: Friday

What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.
-- Jack Kerouac, On The Road --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Splash du Jour: Thursday

“What? 'Borderline patients play games'? That's what you said? Ernest, you'll never be a real therapist if you think like that. That's exactly what I meant earlier when I talked about the dangers of diagnosis. There are borderlines and there are borderlines. Labels do violence to people. You can't treat the label; you have to treat the person behind the label."
-- Irvin D. Yalom, Lying On The Couch --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

You will search the world over and not find a nonsuperstitious community. As long as there is ignorance, there will be adherence to superstition. Dispelling ignorance is the only solution. That is why I teach.
-- Irvin D. Yalom, The Spinoza Problem --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day, Canada!
It's become a tradition for me to post a clip of the Snowbirds flying past my apartment here in the nation's capital every July 1st. But today, there I was out on the balcony at the right time, pointing my camera right at them, and only afterward finding that the thing was not even on. Duh! 
That's the kind of thing you do not get a second chance with!
Oh well, maybe tonight I will post a clip of the fireworks, again, from the most perfect vantage point IN Canada! With the camera ON this time!

Here is now my addenda to this former blog-posting --
Well, first of all, a storm rolled in around 5 p.m., and I happened to be on my balcony when I got this incredibly timely shot of my own localized private rainbow. Pretty cool, huh? 
Click on the image to enlarge, and see the rainbow from end to end.

Then, even though ominous clouds were present, the fireworks did go off as planned!
Happy Canada Day, Canada, from the balcony of Bookpuddle.