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More from the Paper

1.  The Chief Operating Office of the National Children’s Museum is arrested on child pornography charges.  Why did he do it?  I guess he liked children.  Must be similar to the rich man who steals, and the man with the beautiful wife who is caught with another beautiful woman.

2.  The Mukasey nomination moves to the full Senate.  As I understand it, Mukasey has informed the lawmakers that he was thinking “surf boarding” and not “water boarding”, and wondered what the big deal is about.  He believes that surf boarding is repugnant and would happily enforce a law to forbid it.

3.  The weather today is “Jacket”.  That, as I understand it, is better than “Parka”.

4.  Parts of route 210 will be closed today for bridge work.  It will be that portion of route 210 which is sponsored by the American Dental Association.

5.  “Jericho” is being shown at the National Portrait Gallery, starring Paul Robeson, “the All American athlete, scholar, actor and social activist”.  And Communist?

6.  The Katzen Center is hosting a discussion on the legacy of 1970s feminine art, led by Carey Lovelace.  Do they mean Linda Lovelace?

7.  On the Local News page:  5 women groped near Arlington Metro, woman in Alexandria attacked, elementary school principal found dead, two men were charged in a kidnapping/rape case, and DC Attorney General Linda Singer seems to be missing in action.

8.  Bill Cosby is speaking at a benefit tonight.  He is described as the former star of “The Cosby Show.”  Oh, that Bill Cosby.

9.  There is a new program being tested in the District to reduce teen pregnancy.  “Rather than just teaching sex education, instructors devote an hour during the school day…to instruction on such things as money management and self-expression”.  “Excuse me, I said no and I mean no.  I have to balance the checkbook now.”  It’ll work.

10.  The Nationals are having a charity gala in P.G. County.  This will cut costs $250,000, all of which goes to serve low income children in the District.  The District is furious.  They want to have the gala in DC and if the kids are shortchange, I guess that is OK.

11.  A navy doctor’s house contained a camera that video taped students and friends in various sexual activities, and also some addition adult videos.  The doctor said: I wonder how all that got there?  He also said that he did not use his on-line fake name to buy pornography, although pornography was bought by his on-line fake name.  And he says that he did not write the students’ names on the various video tapes, although the handwriting looks identical to his own.  And as to the 2000 homosexual photographs found on his home computer?  No answer for that one.

12.  The District needs a new facility to store critical data.  It is looking at places 100 miles from the District.  I think that they should ask Stan Kasten how he found his location in PG.

13.  Charter schools are the best for low-income students.  This is the conclusion of an organization that supports Charter schools.

And that is only half of today’s Examiner.

What Good Does It Do To Read The Newspaper?

I forget more than I remember, yet I keep reading…….

Here are some of the things I am reading today that I will forget later today……

Part of I-95 will be closed today for the delivery of concrete girdles.  (I thought women stopped wearing them long ago)

Part of Route 210 will be closed today for a milling operation (What are you doing, doctor? Just milling around, I guess)

An exhibit of “paintings of the torture of Iraqi insurgents” is opening today at the Katzen Center  (“Now, if you will just hold that pose a few more minutes, please….”)

The pianist performing at the Kennedy Center tonight has the “only in the 20th or 21st century” name of Louis Schwizgebel-Wang.  (I may have known some Wang-Schizgebels, but never Schwizgebel-Wangs)

You can hear Steven Alvarez and his Native American storytelling for free, hear Tom Cole talk about Native American Heritage Month for free, hear Sir John H. Elliott talk about the differences between British and Spanish colonialism in the New World for free, but if you want to hear George and David Stuart talk about Mayan culture, you will need to fork over $18.  (I think I’ll hear the Stuarts)

All on one program:  Action Action; Pink Spiders; You, Me and Everyone we Know; and Paper River.  (That will cost you $10, or $2.50 per group; I will stick with the Stuarts)

A 60 year old school counselor has been arrested for assaulting a 5 year old girl in a school bathroom.

Six D.C. Catholic schools have been ordered by the archbishop to convert to public charter schools.  One of their leaders has said:  we are going to take this to the Vatican!!

DC is going to start putting Metro smart card chips into drivers licenses, whether you want one or not.  Metro will know who is riding the system.

On Saturday, Oladapo Adu (related to Freddy?) will play chess against all comers, 50 at a time at the DC MLK Library.

Today is John Phillip Sousa’s 153rd birthday.

Mel Krupin, on the other hand, is 78.

Do most people like John Allen Muhammad, the DC Sniper? Probably not.  The headline says “Court denies sniper’s appeal”.

Another judge said to the DC government:  “Let’s not lose sight of the trees for the forest.”

In mixing up religion and politics, Massachusetts congressman Lynch said, in talking about the Red Sox victory, “God is good”.

Benson Jewelers is opening a new store on F Street, with the motto: “We provide the rock.  You provide the roll”.  That’ll attract a lot of business.  Very clever.

The United Health Foundation has determined that DC “faces problems with crime, poverty and early death”.  I wondered about that.  They also said that 31.8% of DC children live in poverty, and 40% of women do not have access to pre-natal care.

Mayor Fenty decided that the District government should not automatically delete all emails when they are 6 months old.  Fenty carries 3 blackberries at all times.

The DC Metro area is fourth in the country in the number and quality of jobs, behind, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

After meeting with Bush, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said:  “I am happy”.

And Bush said, about president-for-life Musharraf, that he “should remove his military uniform”.

This is the text of a complete article:  “The Bush administration, trying to combat Syrian attempts to reassert control over Lebanon’s political system, said Monday it was imposing economic sanctions against four people”.

Secretary of Defense Gates will meet Hu today?

An Indonesian “servant for a millionaire couple” in Islip NY said today that, among other things, she was scalded with hot water if she slept late.  (I assume that the defense of the millionaire couple will be: “we did it because we were told we could not waterboard”)

The writers are on strike so the late night talk shows are going to reruns.  You gotta be kidding.  Those shows have writers?

“A man shouting threats was subdued at the [Colorado] state capitol and arrested on Monday, less than four months after a trooper shot and killed an armed man inside the building.”  Connection, please?

In an objective piece of reporting, the AP article on the fatal nursing home fire in Moscow contains the following:  “underscored the negligence, mismanagement, corruption and crumbling infrastructure that persist….under President Putin”.

All from today’s “Examiner”

The Caps Lose Again

Now, they have lost 7 of their last 9.  They have also lost a number of their fans.  Last year, Glenn Hanlon said that they were going to be a better team this summer.  Perhaps they were.  But something is clearly wrong now.  I know.  They have three important injured players: Clark, Semin and Poti.  And that undoubtedly means quite a lot.  But there are a lot of injured players in the NHL, and the effect is not normally this serious.

So, is Olie Kolzig still up to being a first string goalie?  I don’t know.  I have a hard time deciding whether goals result from bad defense or bad goaltending.  I wish someone would tell me.  And is Glenn Hanlon the right coach?  I don’t know that either.

Syzygy……Flugelloom (3 cents)

spellingbee.jpgTwo words from the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  There were more.

And some great lines…..Do you know that if you took the w out of answer, the h out of ghost, the second a out of aardvark and the t out of listen, that you would get “what” and if you said it, no one would hear it?

And some great talent.

And it moves right along.

OK, so it’s not always politically correct, and it has humor that really isn’t met for some of the children who were in the audience, but as entertainment, it is a first class piece, and the touring cast that is playing at the National Theater is strong at every point.

Two Restaurants, Two Books, a Play and Congratulations (3 cents)

Restaurant #1. Bistrot Lepic (upstairs in the wine bar). A very nice dinner on our anniversary. Heidsieck champagne was the highlight of Edie’s, and an extraordinary dish of scallops served on a bed of broccoli mousse with shaved ginger the highlight of mine.

Restaurant #2. Merkado. This time, it was three of us. Tilapia, chicken enchiladas and a seared tuna “salad espana”. Not elegant, but quite good. Waiter in training. Thought that serving a salad for two was appropriate, but that it would cost extra to divide it on two plates (as opposed to giving that task to the diners). Disappeared, and came back apologetic.

Book #1. Another one that has not been read in the last 50 years, There is No Truce by Rudolph W. Chamberlain. An unknown book by an unknown writer, and the biography of an unknown man, Thomas Mott Osborne. Published in 1935, Osborne was a progressive reformer politician, from a rather patrician family in Auburn, New York, who served as mayor of Auburn for several terms, had a number of chances to rise in the New York Democratic Party (thwarted by an uncontrollable urge to keep fighting Tammany Hall), member of the New York Public Service Commission regulating state utilities, proponent of summer camps in lieu of military reform schools for tough children, and eventual proponent of and practitioner of prison reform as warden of a penitentiary in Auburn and then Sing Sing. Correct thinking, if sometimes too uncompromising, he had his softer sides as well. Active in theatrical affairs from his school days, including his years at Harvard, he continued his theatricality, but in an atypical manner. He would disguise himself in various manner of strange (at least to him) dress, and go out on the town playing his roles to an unsuspecting public. Sometimes in the company of other masqueraders. Late to marry, he had several children in great rapidity, but his wife died very young, and he did not rewed. Probably gay, he certainly led a life style indicative of strange sexual interests (one of his masquerade buddies being a much younger sculptor who lived in his house, for example), but back in 1935 (he lived from 1858-1926), no one would dare suggest it.

Would I suggest you read this book? I wouldn’t go out of my way looking for it, I guess, but if given to you on a slow boat to China, you would not be wasting your time. An interesting guy who did interesting things. An insight into New York politics and society of 75 years ago. Well written, containing some memorable lines, none of which I remember.

Book #2. This one I recommend very highly. Equally unknown, I am sure, it is the memoir of Katherine Harris von Hogendorp, titled Survival in the Land of Dysentery. Harris (that is who she was then; it was pre-von Hogendorp days) was an extremely talented young woman from Baltimore, a pianist and singer who attended the Curtis Institute and had a promising career before her, when (during World War II) she, like so many others, put everything on hold, and became an American Red Cross Girl, stationed for almost two years at a secret American/British air base in the Indian jungle, where her job (and that of the two others with her) was to entertain the troops, serve them coffee, and make them as comfortable as possible. In the 1990s, living in Baltimore, she decided to take a course in creative writing. She discovered that people were interested in hearing about, and reading about, her two years, 1941-1943, helping the troops keep India out of the war, and regain lost territory in China. The book is only 150 pages long. It is a fascinating book. It shows how (fairly) ordinary people lived in an extraordinary time, how they coped under very difficulty conditions, and what they accomplished. And the concept of sacrifice (and I am not sure that they even thought about it in that manner) is so different from what you find today, when we are in another war, and so different from what it was like during Vietnam. For any number of reasons, this book should be read. I kid you not.

5. The play. We saw David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow” last night at Theater J. I am not a Mamet expert, and had only glanced at the mixed reviews. Here is what I think.

This is a short, 3 act play (about 90 minutes in all). The story involves a movie studio in Hollywood. Character 1 has been promoted to head of production. Character 2 has optioned a well known actor and script, but only for a very short time. Thus he needs Character 1’s approval very quickly (and Character 1’s approval then needs to be ratified at one higher level) . Character 3 is a temporary secretary, only working in the office for a few days.

The basic premise is that the script being brought by Character 2 has no socially redeeming qualities but would most likely make a handsome profit, and that Character 3 (who reads a silly book about redemption and the end of the world as we know it, and radiation as the stepping stone to further evolution, all as arranged by God) seduces Character 1 and convinces him that he should make a movie from that book, even though it might not make money, because it is socially redeeming.

What did I think? I thought that the dialog in the first act (fast paced, stylistic) was very clever. I thought that Character 3’s excitement about this downright nutty book was appealing and amusing (in a good way). I thought that the third act was an abomination. This climatic scene, where Character 1 has to make a choice between money or principles (hard to make this choice when the principles are so vacuous), and between old friend and sycophant, on the one hand, and presumably insincere young woman on the other, I thought pretty well destroyed the play which, until then, had some promise.

As to the production itself? I thought the play was well directed, and the set looked and worked well. I thought that each of the three actors almost had it, but that almost having it is not the same as really mastering the part. I thought this was too bad, because they did come close. That is, until the third act. At that point, as I don’t think anyone could master the third act, I really didn’t care any more.

6. Congratulations. Congrats go to cousin Randy for the release of Randy and the Radiant’s first CD. See http://www.bornagainhippies.blogspot.com.

Don Imus Returning. Will I or Won’t I? (13 cents)

imus1.jpgIt appears that Don Imus will be returning to his radio show on WABC in New York City. I assume he will be picked up by other stations, and that he will soon be back on the air here. Will I listen to him, or won’t I?

Now, I really liked Mel Gibson. But after his “Passion of the Christ”, I cannot bear to watch him. I am not sure he is even making new movies (I know his drawing power must have been affected), but I can’t even watch his old movies, the ones I like.

I also liked Imus (although I thought his show would have been better off without the ribald, sophomoric humor); he is simply very engaging. But I also thought he should have been fired. And he was. But the firing was apparently only a second degree burn and he is coming back.

Will I listen to his show?

Or won’t I?

Sweet “Suite Francaise” (2 cents)

nemirovsky.jpgWhen I picked up a copy of Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, I did not have great expectations.  I thought it would be, more than anything else, an oddity.  A book written by a French-Jewish author while she was in hiding from the Nazis, hidden unread for years, and published over 60 years after her death at Auschwitz.  It would be interesting, but would it be good?

I thought it was great.

Nemirovsky wanted to write about France under occupation.  Her goal (unfulfilled) was a trilogy; she only wrote the first two portions (and probably would have altered them as she went along).

The first half of the book, entitled “Storm in June”, consists of a series of vignettes about residents of Paris who flee the city in the days before the arrival of the Nazis.  The second half, “Dolce”, concentrates on three families who live in a rural area of France under German occupation; there are references in their conversation  to some of the personalities in “Storm”, but these are fleeting.  The third portion of the book was to bring all of this together.

The book reads very smoothly; the personalities and their predicaments are ultimately interesting and credible.  I recommend it highly.

But let’s talk about Nemirovsky.  It turns out she really wasn’t French.  She was born in Russia to a wealthy banking family which escaped the Bolsheviks in 1919 and came to France.  Irene was 16.  She never became a French citizen.

She married another Russian emigree, Michael Epstein.  They had two daughters.  In 1939, the family converted to Catholicism (whether for political or spiritual reasons, I don’t know).  Her books (there were several best sellers before this book was written) are not about Jews.  OK, so she was Jewish according to the Nazis and killed at Auschwitz, but was she a Jewish writer?  This is obviously how she is being portrayed.

I don’t know the answer to that question.

In the back of the book, there are appendixes with excerpts from her notes on the book, and correspondence between family members and government officials after her arrest.  Her husband writes (before he was arrested and murdered): “And it seems to me both unjust and illogical that the Germans should imprison a woman who, despite of being of Jewish descent, has no sympathy whatsoever–all her books prove this–either for Judaism or the Bolshevik regime.”

Another strange point.  Apparently, Nemirovsky’s mother had her own problems.  She lived through the war years in Nice in some comfort, it is said, and after the war, Nemirovsky’s two young daughters, who had been hidden, went to their grandmother.  According to the preface of the French edition of the book, “Fanny [the grandmother] had spent the war years in Nice, living in great comfort, but when the children rang the doorbell, she refused to let them in, shouting through the closed door that if their parents were dead, they should go to an orphanage…”

The manuscript to Suite Francaise was kept by her oldest daughter Denise for over 50 years in an unopened trunk with other papers of her mother (how they were preserved, I do not know).  She decided about ten years ago to donate them to a French institution and, before they were handed over,  Denise decided to see what she had.  This decision led to the publication of the book.

All of this is quite odd.  The book is terrific.

To Keep You Up to Date

1.  The poor Washington Caps.  We saw them beat Tampa Bay 5-3 Wednesday, so hope was replenished.  But last night and the night before, they lost to Vancouver and St. Louis.  They have now lost five of their last six.  It doesn’t look good, does it?

2.  Caligula.  We saw Hannah’s friend Alexander Strain play the title role in Albert Camus’ “Caligula”.  He was as good as the reviews made him out to be.  But it is too bad that Camus’ play was not worthy of his effort.  To be fair to Camus (why?), perhaps there was a translation problem, perhaps it was meant for a larger cast, perhaps the play or edited or cut down.  Or, it might have been a problem with the direction, and certainly there was a gap between the performance of Alex and the performances of the remaining 10 or so cast members.  I can imagine the play being done differently and more engagingly, but this performance I thought was pretty flat overall.

3.  Our friends Frank and Ahuva.  How is it that they know everyone?  Whomever you mention, they say either “their friends of ours”, or “we have known them a long time”.  You can somehow understand how they might know members of the local Jewish community, but it goes beyond that.  Famous musicians, they know them all.  The rabbi of the National Synagogue, of course.  We visit a real estate development on the western shore of Oahu, and they have a timeshare there.  A friend buys a house in Chestertown, MD and joins the local Jewish community there, and they know everyone in that community.  They take a trip of the trans-Siberian railroad, and the guide suggests that everyone is no more than three persons from everyone else – and says “let’s see how close you are to Joseph Stalin”; they knew someone who translated for Stalin.  How can this be?

4.  Dinner last night at The Heights.  The Heights is a pretty close clone of Logan Tavern.  We went with our friends, Art and Carol from LA, and their daughter Julia, who works here for Greenpeace.  I had sliced crusted ahi tuna, and Edie had tilapia.  The food is excellent. The restaurant is located in one of the new buildings at 14th and Park, an area that is in the throes of such major changes.  We did not know how crowded it would be, and thought it would be struggling for a few years.  If last night was an example, customers are not going to be a problem; it was pretty much filled.