On Fleek

Plutarch’s fleek Romans were sleek. For today’s pop icons fleek connotes perfection. On point. As in Caitlyn Jenner? Rumer Willis? Rainy Monday. What can I say. Tyrion Lannister and Khaleesi together. Definitely.

Rand Paul has been consistent in making the right case. It’s not about whether data gathering under the Patriot Act makes us safer. The point is that it violates the Fourth Amendment. Slippery slope. Potential for abuse in the wrong hands.

Recent literary prize-winners were women. Mantel. Catton. Enright. Tartt. Why the need for a women-only prize? Edward St. Aubyn spoofs the process in his Lost for Words where the prize went to a Cookbook. What’s wrong with that?

E Trades

Emotional trade-offs. Ian McEwan’s The Children Act is packed full of them. An English family law judge struggles with making the best of lousy situations. She is a detached woman, necessary for her work yet it spills over into her marriage. A study of rigid religious and social constructs so easily shattered. One simple word or gesture can change everything. The novel is ultimately unsettling.

Ebola trades. Science vs. psychology. Quarantines overly constrain. Self-monitoring causes strange side effects like having a hankering to get on a cruise ship, airplane, or subway train. The major issue is resources. Hospital staff, law enforcement to track down potential contacts, proper facilities. Exponentially expensive. In the meantime, stay away from those e-bowling shoes.

Too Big Yet Failed

The Perfect Prey, The Fall of ABN AMRO, or What Went Wrong in the Banking Industry, by Jeroen Smit. I came across this book, written by a Dutch investigative journalist, by chance. After the recent tragic murder-suicide by former CEO Schmittmann was reported in the NY Post, I did some research as an ABN AMRO alum, and one of its former Managing Directors. I found the paperback and it read like a novel. Here is my Amazon review:

‘A stilted translation to English may be some of the reason for my 3 stars. But, the story was well told and compelling- the demise of a once prestigious global financial institution, ABN, which prided itself on being a member of each community it served in over 70 countries, rivaling only Citibank. When the corrupt AMRO merged with ABN, began le deluge. I became unwittingly embroiled in an unethical transaction with the saga’s central character, AMRO’s R. Groenink. A lot of the players are known to me from my tenure at the Bank in San Francisco and Boston in the 80’s and 90’s. Lex Kloosterman was my boss. After I retired, he went on to Fortis and was instrumental in the tale and ultimate sale. There is probably not a wide audience for this book. I would recommend it as an allegory- too big yet failed. A moral tragedy.’

Monday Verde

St. Patty’s Day. Go Green. ZooMass in the bracket race. Nothing new in the world. Malaysian plane is still missing. Crimea is still part of Russia. Don’t care about South African murder case. Eschewing stale TV, retreated to reading.

Finally finished The Deptford Trilogy. Last novel, my favorite, World of Wonders, is a tragic intricate tale told by kidnapped boy turned magician. It takes us from the depths of Deptford, Ontario to London, Paris, the mountains of Switzerland. The most colorful book of the three, life in carnivals and theaters explores human frailties that manifest in good and evil. Full review on TrekBooks. Good writing stands the test of time. Thanks for the journey, PithyV.

StepFord Files

1970’s literary departure. Robertson Davies’ Fifth Business. The first of his Deptford Trilogy. Pre-WW I through WW II, the evolution of small-town Canadians’ intertwined lives. Sullen narrative with prosaic nuggets.

MarchVanityFair. Rupert Murdoch’s ex-Wendi Deng story. Riveting. Scientology scion wife mystery. Intriguing. How does General Hospital get away with calling its resident nut house ‘Miscavige Hospital for the Criminally Insane’? Hilarious.

Downton finale. Already? SoapOpera digested. Mary has become insufferable as she commands her two suitors to spar for her hand. At least she didn’t spill the beans on Bates. An uneven season ends with royal romance, avenged violation, new baby on the landscape. The Levinson’s tour portends tremors to come. Hughes-Carson liaison doesn’t quite resonate. We wait for Barrow’s next move.



FoxSports1- Reege Crowd Goes Wild
Game of Thrones– Red Wedding
Hotel Giraffe
Gramercy Tavern, Da Silvano
MadDad Photo Contest- Side Trek
Joey3Sticks- 50 Clambake
Book of Mormon, Motown
Fabritius’ Goldfinch at the Frick


Carnival (Ted) Cruz
Phippy wins British Open
Boston Marathon Djokers
Trayvon Martin jury
Carlos’ undangerous Weiner

Tartt Tale

Dickens meets Nietzsche meets Dostoyevsky in Donna Tartt’s third novel. Fabritius’ The Goldfinch, is the masterpiece of this tale. It becomes young Theodore Decker’s only glimmer of light as his life is blown to smithereens one afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum post- 9/11. As fate fractures, the tethered finch on a shelf foretells shackles of guilt and self-loathing.

Full review on TrekBooks. Painting at The Frick Collection thru Jan 19. DutchMasters. No. Not the cigars.

Valley Currents

A new neighbor gave me her 2011 book. Finally got to it. Brooke Hauser’s The New Kids tells stories of newcomers to America at a Brooklyn high school for immigrant students. Every adventure could be a novel of its own. Journeys from China, Tibet, Sierra Leone, Burma. Beautifully written and true, it recounts these children’s harrowing paths to our shores and continuing travails. Yet, hope and inspiration prevails as the American dream is unique to each of them.

Northampton’s Peter Kobel finished a 5-year tome, The Strange Case of the Mad Professor: A True Tale of Endangered Species, Illegal Drugs and Attempted Murder. A twisted trail that leads an off-kilter academic to NYU Anthropology Department Chair. He went to jail in the early 1980’s for manufacturing LSD and quaaludes, ostensibly for research on lemurs in his lab there. When paroled, he sent poisoned chocolates to the sentencing judge. Back to jail.

Jason Reitman’s movie Labor Day, filmed in Shelburne Falls, is making its debut at the Telluride Film Festival. Based on Joyce Maynard’s novel, it’s timely for the holiday as her former paramour J.D. Salinger is back in the news.

Braised Hake. RecipeDetours.

Old New York

Back from a quick round trip. Headed downtown. High-summer fare on Washington Square in Old Greenwich Village. Blue Hill. Not as good as last time. Shockingly short on seasonal produce. Otto Enoteca, Italian train station pizzeria. Gone is the elegant One Fifth, art deco ship’s bar of yesteryear.

New York in the 1860’s, BBC’s second season of Copper is a good one. Five Points, what is now lower Manhattan in the days leading up to Lincoln’s assassination. Corrupt cops, spies, slavery, counterfeiters. Mount Holyoke’s Czitrom historical consultant. Better than Newsroom. Watch that on a different day, as well as Masterpiece’s Endeavour. Sunday nights chock full of choices.

Great reads about old New Amsterdam from 1600’s to the Civil War~ City of Dreams, Beverly Swerling. HeyDay, Kurt Andersen. Downtown, Pete Hamill.

Waste Land

It’s almost porch reading season. Help! Good books wanted. Best Sellers. Either, I’ve read most of them a year ago. Or, they are 50 shades of insipid romance. And, I don’t follow Patterson or any other mystery serials. Any ideas? Donna Tartt’s third book in 30 years, Goldfinch, doesn’t come out until October.

Passover-Easter. Second week of Spring break continues. If you don’t like basketball, you are screwed. Sweet 16. Still have 3. FGCSU. Who? Golf delayed. Johnny Miller livid, a Tiger Sunday gone with the wind. Golf Channel today.

Too cold to take Sugar Shack Side Treks. Maybe next week.