Monday, April 29, 2024


 I think that when Biden won the 2020 election and the MAGA garbage was swept out of the capital many of us thought the Trump nightmare was over. But it's not. It's like a virus that is resistant to antibiotics. And now here we are again coming up to another election, another season of hatred and vitriol heightened by the fact that one of the candidates is a four times indicted criminal facing more than 80 felony charges, found liable for rape, and guilty in civil court of fraud. Is this not nearly impossible to believe? My goodness, what a sad moral failure we have witnessed in our nation.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Table for Two

 The Forbidden City ..., thought Eve. Now, that sounds like a place worth going. 

--Eve in Hollywood, Amor Towles

I've just finished reading Table for Two, Amor Towles' collection of short stories. The two words that come to mind are relentlessly entertaining. It is the sort of book that you feel sad upon finishing, because you must leave the worlds he has created and move on to other worlds that are not likely to be nearly as satisfying. But all of Towles work is like that - - these stories, the novella that comprises the second half of the book, as well as his novels, The Lincoln Highway, A Gentleman in Moscow, and Rules of Civility. Towels' voice is just so welcoming, so pleasant, so companionable, reminiscent in this way of Dickens or Twain or Melville. And as an extra treat, for those who have already read Rules of Civility, Towles brings back clever and strong-willed Evelyn Ross for a delightful romp in a novella exceeding 200 pages. I'm going to miss this author's wit and sophistication until he comes around again.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Eid Prefer Not

 At the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, we have Eid, which is the end of the fast and a time for everyone to get the hell out of Dodge, wherever Dodge happens to be for each individual. Half of these individuals appear to have come to Bali, as the beaches and the streets are jam-packed with people on foot, in cars, and of course on motorbikes. Seemingly millions of motorbikes. My usual 7 minute trip home after evening coffee in Sanur took more like 20 minutes this evening. And it was not a leisurely 20 minutes, or a pleasant 20 minutes, or a relaxing 20 minutes. It was 20 minutes of hell on wheels! To make matters worse, there was some kind of ceremony or celebration at the banjar near my house which complicated the situation considerably. But I am home now and have given six waiting dogs their evening treats and then disrobed and disengaged my silly hernia belt, which came in the mail just today. I don't know that the damn thing does much, other than press on the hernia, but it will need further experimentation in the form of a walk to see if it is comfortable enough or whether it ought better to be stored in a drawer along with other useless items I have purchased in the past. No chance of a walk this evening though, as it is deadly humid outside and about to rain I believe. Everyone is going somewhere for Eid, all at the same time, and somehow, miraculously, they all seem to end up in the same place at the same time no matter what place that might be. So happy Eid to all, although Eid rather do without it.

Friday, April 5, 2024

A Table for Two

 I watched two depressing documentaries in the last week--something called God and Country, which is about the calamity called Christian Nationalism, and the other The Truth Vs Alex Jones. Well, one and a half, I should say, as I could not finish God and Country. It was simply too dreary. Heartbreaking, really. How in the world can these people have gotten so confused? Of course they were led. But how then could they have been stupid enough to follow? It is a shame, pure and simple, and an insult to the true faith. Has the world always been this full of hucksters? Well, I suppose it has, and I suppose people have always been carried away by various brands of brave sounding nonsense. 

Of course, the Jones documentary was keenly depressing as well, but I watched it to the end, wanting to see him suffer some punishment that might inflict some fraction of the pain he inflicted on his innocent victims. But this was not to be had. Sure, he suffered a judgment in the form of millions of dollars--but then simply declared bankruptcy and is still on TV broadcasting his idiotic, and often dangerous conspiracy theories. I don't know what I expected. Maybe some sort of particularly gruesome medieval torture? Not sure if even that would have been sufficient though. 

On a positive note, I happened to stop into PeriPlus bookstore today and found Table for Two, a collection of short stories by Amor Towles, one of our very best contemporary American writers. Coincidentally, a series is currently running on IMDb based on Towles' novel A Gentleman in Moscow, which is looking, after one episode, very well done indeed.