As you can see from the pictures below, I spent an entire Red Sox game last night wearing a Yankee hat.
(Sox defeat Orioles, 10-1)
"Consider the Lobster", "Consider the Oyster", Broome's Island, Calvin Trillin, Crab Cakes, David Foster Wallace, Gourmet Magazine, John McPhee, lobster, Maryland Blue Crabs, MFK Fischer, Patuxent River, Stoney's Restaurant
In a recent review of several movies (Five Movies to Recommend), I mentioned the name of a writer, David Foster Wallace, whom I somehow didn’t know. Or at least I didn’t know I ‘knew’ him. Thanks to an alert MillersTime reader (KC), I was reminded of an article he wrote in the now defunct Gourmet magazine in 2004 entitled Consider the Lobster. So I reread the article — I think I had never paid much attention to who authored it — and was again amused and delighted.
Wallace had taken on an assignment for Gourmet to write about the annual Maine Lobster Festival, held in July in the state’s mid-coast region. No doubt taking a page from MFK Fischer’s wonderful small book, Consider the Oyster, (written in 1941), Wallace’s essay took the opportunity provided by the festival to explore an issue many of us who love lobsters and prepare them at home occasionally ‘consider’.
Trust me on this one. If you’ve ever ‘considered the lobster’ and if you like the writings of Calvin Trillin and John McPhee (a high bar I know), I suspect you’ll enjoy Wallace’s Consider the Lobster. And be sure to read the 20 footnotes which are really just an extension of this amusing and delightful essay and likely the only footnotes you’ll ever read with pleasure.
Rereading Consider the Lobster also reminded me about how much Ellen and I have enjoyed an annual weekend that has been centered around lobsters and friendship.
"Althogh Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself", "Infinite Jest", "Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation", "Phoenix", "Rolling Stone", "Rosenwald", Avalon Theatre, Aviva Kempner, Christian Petzoid, Conrad Anker, David Foster Wallace, David Lipsky, DC Shorts Film Festival, Documentarties, Films, Jason Siegel, Jesse Eisenberg, Jimmy Chin, Julius Rosenwald, Mount Meru, Movies, Nina Hoss, Renan Oztruk, Ronald Zehrfeld, Rosenwald Fund, Rosenwald Schools, Sears. Roebuck & Co., Shark's Fin, The Ciesla Foundation, Tom Cruise
Five more films to consider, including at least one that is available everywhere.
Good filmmaking and very good acting make this suspense filled drama engrossing.
Writer and director Christian Petzold creates and tells a story about a woman who returns from a concentration camp badly disfigured and who undergoes facial reconstructive surgery. She then sets out to find her husband, who may or may not have been responsible for her arrest and imprisonment.
While the story has some implausible aspects, it nevertheless grabbed me and held me throughout. Both the women, Nelly (Nina Hoss) and her ‘perhaps’ husband, Johnny (Ronald Zehrfeld), are intriguing characters, strikingly portrayed, and well acted, particularly Nelly.
Phoenix is not a thriller tho it is filled with suspense. Post-war Berlin is the setting, and there is something about the filmmaking that makes it compelling and enthralling.
"Between the World and Me", "Cartel Land", "Go Tell a Watchman", "Love & Mercy", "Me, "Mr. Holmes", "Soy Cuba" ("I Am Cuba"), "Spy", "The Precious Ordinary", "When Marnie Was There", Early & the Dying Girl", Ellen's Lens, Ellen's Photos, Harper Lee, John Hersey's "Hiroshima", Kent Haruf, Marilynne Robinson, Movies, National Book Festival, Pico Iyer, Ta-Nehisi Coates
I thought I’d gather in one place a few of the posts you might have missed while you were enjoying the summer.
DC Area Book Lovers – Save the Date: a reminder about the National Book Festival that takes place here next Saturday, Sept. 5.
Why We Travel – Pico Iyer: one travel writers thoughts about why we enjoy travel.
Broadway as You’ve Never Known It: One very good and one terrific musical that are different from the ones you’ve known.
John Hersey’s Hiroshima: The New Yorker’s free on line release of Hersey’s recounting of what happen to six ‘survivors’ of the Atomic explosion.
Three Very Different Films: Mini-reviews of Cartel Land, Mr. Holmes, & Soy Cuba (I Am Cuba).
A Novel & a Memoir: Each Tells a Story Worth Discussing: Mini-reviews of Harper Lee’s Go Tell a Watchman and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me
Japan Through Ellen’s Eye: Photos from a recent trip.
Travels to Japan: On Being Schooled by the Younger Generation: Why it’s sometimes a good idea to listen to our kids.
Movies Movies Movies: Mini-reviews of Spy, When Marnie Was There, Me, Earl & the Dying Girl, and Love & Mercy. Plus, links to eight other films we saw in various film festivals over the past year that have now been released to the public.
Baseball Through Ellen’s Lens: Ellen takes her camera to a baseball game (Red Sox, of course).
Through Ellen’s Lens: A Weekend of Baby Sitting. More on the three grand children.
The Precious Ordinary: Reviewing four books by Kent Haruf.
Summer Fiction Update: Reviewing three by Marilynne Robinson.
As readers of this website no doubt have noticed, we travel a lot.
In fact, we have been away almost (not exactly) as much as we’ve been home over the last year, in part because we’ve had a good deal of freedom since Ellen has retired from her professional work. (I got a jump on retirement, when about six or seven years ago I left the school a group of us had created in the mid-70s.)
Traveling has always been important to us. For more than 50 years we have made leaving home and exploring other places a significant part of our lives.
A number of years ago we were reorganizing our library and discovered the number of books relating to travel (guides and travel literature) was growing much faster than our acquisitions of professional books (education/psychology and political/governmental). Then, a couple of years ago we have had to build new space just to contain our travel related books.
In fact, travel literature is another way to leave home without having to step outside of the house. While I prefer to travel than to read about travels, there are a number of wonderful writers that fill the gaps between trips.
All of the above is to introduce an article I stumbled across a couple of weeks ago by one of the travel writers I enjoy — Pico Iyer.
"Fun Home", "Hamilton", 2015 Tony Awards, Alexander Hamilton, Alison Bechidel, Best Musical, Broadway, Circle in the Square Theatre, Emily Skeggs, Founding Fathers, Jeanine Tesori, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lisa Kron, Michael Cerveris, musicals, Ron Chernow, Sydney Lucas
I’m not really a Broadway musical kind of guy. In a ‘former life’ I certainly enjoyed South Pacific, The King and I, The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, and, in ‘more recent times‘, I’ve also enjoyed such shows as Hair, Les Miserables and even Book of Mormon. Generally, however, I find I prefer dramas to musicals when we are looking for plays to see.
Last week made me question that preference a bit. We saw two musicals on Broadway that were outstanding.
Mind you they were nothing like the traditional musicals.
One was about a dysfunctional family and a suicide (Fun Home), and the other was about the least well known of our Founding Fathers who was killed in a duel (Hamilton), neither of them traditional material for musicals.
Fun Home has won five 2015 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and Hamilton, which has just opened on Broadway, will no doubt and deservedly win every award for which it is eligible.
Here, in the order in which we saw these two remarkable productions, are mini-reviews of the best plays I’ve seen on Broadway in many years.
""Autodefensa", "Cartel Land", "I Am Cuba", "Mr. Holmes", "Soy Cuba", 'El Doctro', Arizona Border Recon, Dr. Jose Mirales, Ian McKellan, Kathryn Bigelow, Knights of Templar, Laura Linney, Mathew Heineman, Mikhail Kalatozov, Milo Parker, Sherlock Holmes, Tim 'Nailer' Foley
We’ve seen three very different films over the past couple of weeks. Hopefully, at least one of the three may have interest for you.
Cartel Land ****1/2
Here are two books that consumed me in the past week. I read them back to back and think there is good reason to read them together. They are very different in major ways, one being a novel that takes place in the 1950s and the other being nonfiction, a letter to the writer’s son, written this year. Both are short and both deal with issues of family, race, and society in our country.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, 288 pages
Buddhist Temples, Bullet Trains, Ellen Miller's Photos, Golden Pavilion, Golden Temple, Hakone, Hiroshima, Japan, Japan: Food Picture Slide Show, Japan: Summer 2015 Slide Show, Japanese Baseball, Kanazawa, Kyoto, Maiko Performance, Mt. Fuji, Nikko, Ryokans, Shinto Shrines, Takayama, Tea Ceremony, Tokyo, Tokyo Tower, Torii Gates, Tsukiji Fish Market, Tuna Auctions, World Heritage Sites, Yokahama DeNa BayStars, Yomiuri Giants
As I promised last week, below are a few of Ellen’s favorite pictures from our trip to Japan. If you want to see more — lots more — check out her slide show of 126 pictures.
While the 15 photos below mostly capture gardens and temples, our activities were hugely varied. We went to the Tsukiji Fish Market and Tuna Auction at 5 AM our first morning in Tokyo, wandered through the teenage fashion and anime centers, viewed the city from the Tokyo Tower, and took a hands-on sushi-making lesson. We were treated to a full-on Tea Ceremony and a Maiko (Geisha apprentices) performance. We soaked our weary selves at three different Ryokan onsens (hot spas) until we shriveled. We saw Torii gates, Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples everywhere we went (in Tokyo, Nikko, Hakone, Takayama, Kanazawa, Hiroshima, and Kyoto). We visited a Gold Leaf museum/factory and a Sake museum along with the Edo/Tokyo museum, a ‘float’ museum, and the chilling museums and monuments in Hiroshima. Of course, there was a baseball game in the Tokyo Dome where we saw the Yokahama DeNA BayStars beat the Yomiuri Giants. We traveled by car, by van, by subway, by train, including the bullet trains, by boat, and we walked at least five or six miles everyday. We saw Mt. Fuji (barely), lakes, waterfalls, bamboo groves, and the wonderful Golden Pavilion. Everywhere there were gardens — miniature gardens, Emperor’s gardens, temple gardens, strolling gardens, rock gardens, ancient ones and modern ones.
Bamboo forest, Bohemian Restaurant, Geoge Nakashima, Gora Kadan, Hakone, Heiruki Sushi, Hida Beef, Hiroshima, Honkawa Elementary School, Ikuzi Teraki, Japan, Kakinuma Restaurant, Kanazawa, Kenrokuen Garden, Kyoto, Lake Ashi, Mt. Fuji, Nara, Nikko, Romulus Craft, Ryoanji Zen Garden, Sekitei, Takayama, The Golden Pavilion, Tofukuji Temple/HoJo Garden, Tokyo, Tsukijiki fish market, Wansato, Yakitori's Memory Lane ("Piss Alley")
Once again our children (this time our younger daughter and her husband) have taught us a thing or two.
Although we have traveled much of our lives, we had never included Japan in those travels. My reasoning/excuse was a prejudice that it would be hard to get ‘inside’ the country (the way we have in India), and we would just be “visitors” there.
Well, I, should have known better. Almost without realizing it, we have been drawn to Japanese art and artisans. Two rooms in our house are furnished with the wonderful Japanese-American furniture of George Nakashima, and in our kitchen, our cupboards are filled with pottery, including our everyday dinnerware, made by another Japanese-American artisan (Ikuzi Teraki of Romulus Craft) who is located in Vermont. We also have two small Asian gardens, one outside of the kitchen and one outside of our sun room. And I just learned that my mother particularly loved Kyoto, something I may have vaguely known but clearly had forgotten.
Anyway, a while ago we suggested to our daughter Elizabeth/Beth and son-in-law Brandt that we take a trip together to a place of their choosing. They almost immediately chose Japan.
Promises have a way of coming due, and so we have just spent two weeks in Tokyo, Nikko, Hakone, Lake Ashi, Takayma, Kanazawa, Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Nara.
"About Elly", "Clouds of Silas Maria", "Gemma Bovery", "Love & Mercy", "Spy", "Testament of Youth", "The Farewell Party", "When Marnie Was There", "Wild Tales", "Woman in Gold", Beach Boys, Brian Wilson, Melissa McCarthy, Paul Fieg
Here are mini-reviews of four recent movies we found enjoyable, plus links to some we saw over the past six to nine months that are now available in some theaters.
This one surprised and delighted me.
A mainstream movie, it stars Melissa McCarthy in a ‘take down’ of virtually every spy movie you’ve ever seen, especially the 007 ones. It’s a laugh out loud film about a woman who emerges from the basement of ‘Agency’ headquarters to track down and beat the bad guys.
McCarthy is terrific in her role and somehow walks the line between being funny and absurd. She’s helped by a good supporting cast (Miriam Hart, Jude Law, Rose Byrnem, and Jason Statham) and a script and direction by Paul Ferg that kept me laughing (despite myself).
* * * * *
How is it that even though I read a lot and think I’m attuned to books and writers of value, I did not know of Marilynne Robinson?
The Marilynne Robinson who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for her novel, Gilead and whose other books have won or been finalists for numerous awards (National Book Awards, etc.).
Thanks to friend and MillersTime reader Robin Rice, I have spent the last two weeks reading Gilead, Home, and Lila. And rather than waiting for the year’s end listing of MillersTime readers’ favorite books, I thought of bringing your attention to Robinson and her writings now (in case you have been as clueless as I was).
"A General Feeling of Disorder", "A Leg to Stand On", "Awakenings", "My Own Life", "On the Move", "The Mind's Eye", 'The Many Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat", author, neurologist, Oliver Sacks, Uncle Tungsten"
If you ‘know of’ Oliver Sacks, have read one or more of his 12 previous books, then the picture above might be a bit surprising to you.
Usually, the pictures we see of this neurologist/author portray quite a different image.
More like this picture to your right:
As you may know, Sacks is a prolific writer, using cases from his work with a variety of patients to describe a world that most of us do not know, a world where anomalies of the brain lead to behaviors and lives that often seem strange, at least until Sacks explains them to us.
As you also may know, Oliver Sacks is dying of terminal cancer, as he announced in an eloquent and affecting NYTimes column, My Own Life, three months ago (although since writing that piece in February, he wrote a second column in April, A General Feeling of Disorder, NY Review of Books, and seems to have ‘rallied’ and may be with us for a while longer).
I have long been intrigued by Sacks’ work, his writings, his findings, and by the man himself. Thus, when his 13th book, a memoir, On the Move: A Life, was published several weeks ago, I, of course, read it immediately.
Some of what we read in this memoir is familiar as he has written about himself previously (particularly in his Uncle Tugsten and in his A Leg to Stand On). We know he is a doctor, a scientist, an author, and above all an advocate for (our) understanding strange behaviors and listening to the lives of (his) patients.
But there is much that is new also.