Today’s Book Review

Sleepwalkers The Sleepwalkers, a thriller I began reading to avoid the most pressing items on my to-do list, is moving along briskly, thank you very much. While the book won’t win literary prizes, the tale of a Jewish detective, trying to solve murder cases in 1932 Berlin, offers insights into a city reeling from reparations following the Versailles treaty – insights that weren’t touched upon when Liza Minnelli lifted a leg or two in Cabaret. 1932 Germany makes today’s Bangkok “entertainment districts” look like Disneyworld. History textbook writers could learn a thing or two about writing background from Paul Grossman’s first novel.

Who Knew I’d Become Fond of a Few?

rhinos in mud I must eat a few words and a plate of crow. The reason? My ceramics classmates. I’m growing terribly fond of a few of them and while they still appear to have fallen from a far distant planet, in terms of their behaviors and viewpoints, I’m afraid I’ve succumbed to their charms. Brooding Martin, so fearful of failing, Jackie, the girl with six jobs and more talent than one person should possess and Daniel, pensive, patient, persistent and soulful, are my favorites. Dare I say that I will miss them come December when the clay and the studio are history?

So Glad I Found Sugar Man

Sugar Man Ordinarily, I wouldn’t choose it, but those nosy Netflix gremlins did. Being arbitrary, I ignored their persistent recommendation for weeks, but they kept bugging me until I said yes to putting Searching For Sugar Man into my DVD queue. I’m glad they did. This documentary proved a sweet antidote to a proliferation of stories about whiny people bent on destroying themselves — and the people who love them — because fame and fortune doesn’t come fast enough to suit them. I got lost in the story and the musical score. Sugar Man is short on calories but long on satisfaction.

Of Treasures and Pleasures

Buddah Folks who know me well are aware of the fact that I can’t resist kitsch. I get daily pleasure from my “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha” dish. I open my ‘fridge and laugh out loud. Bet your butter dish just sits there! Had it ever been manufactured, the Fontanini toaster crèche, designed by Roman’s former wild and crazy art director Bob, would be making the toast that pops up, ready to be Buddha’d. As you can surmise, mine is an equal opportunity kitchen where universal irreverence is practiced. So, anyone know where I can find a mohel’s butter knife?

50 Shades of Clay

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A project’s due, so I brought home clay and promptly ignored it. Instead, I tackled projects that could wait: I gave The Duct Tape Express a facelift so the bumper stays put when I speed down the road, learned to download photos to my new PC, began reading a spy thriller and started writing three new articles. I’ve even made major progress on bathroom floor tile removal and should be finished soon. Out of sight, the clay waits. Lonely. Ignored. Conclusion reached? One person’s avoidance maneuver can be the same person’s motivation! Memo to Self: bring home clay more often.

Pencil Me In For Tuna Time

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Most cats respond to the sound of can openers. Tuna? He also comes running when he hears colored pencils spilling from their box, at which point he methodically rolls each one off the desk until none remain. Why do I put up with his antics when I should be sketching for my class? ‘Cause I suspect that Tuna intends to produce original work, like art appearing in the best-selling book, Why Cats Paint. I know what you’re thinking – the whole opposable thumbs dilemma. But with claws, Tuna believes, all things are possible. That includes becoming a world-renowned cat pencil artist.

Well, Shut My Mouth

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While reading Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I learned that I’m not who I thought I was: I possess 75-percent of the qualities attributed to introverts. I now “get” why I prefer my own company to that of others; why I’m happier playing a supporting role rather than being on stage. I wonder “what might have been” had I met my inner introvert earlier and stopped labeling myself as an extrovert. At the moment, it’s a relief to understand that my mouth needn’t engage to feel comfortable in my skin.

From the Klutz Chronicles

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I’m not graceful, so when I tripped over a tree trunk in DC years ago – landing at Georgetown University Hospital — I expected routine triage. Instead, I got an episode of The West Wing. Yup. The crew was filming there. Ever seek medical treatment when Rob Lowe is on premises and 100 extras are milling about? Given my broken nose, surrounded by a giant pumpkin face, I certainly looked the part. My ex pretended not to know me so nobody thought him a wife batterer at the airport. I didn’t wind up on the show. No Actor’s Equity card perhaps.

I’m a Glutton For Gluten

???? Why is gluten being treated like a controlled substance? I happen to like gluten, and despair over my food favorites as they’re summarily stripped of the ingredient that adds “the yummy.” Case in point: It’s cold, I don’t feel well and Progresso Chunky Mushroom Soup weighs heavily on my brain. I will myself to drive to the store, buy a can, heat it up and promptly gag. It tastes like crap. That’s when I saw the label: “Gluten Free.” I’m close to making an assault on folks in the Progressive Soup test kitchen. Those hairnet-wearing bitches have ruined my winter.

Nothing Ship-Shape About These Vessels, Signore

CYS0004If asked to name the country I’d most want to re-visit, Italy would be at the top of that list. The people are delightful and gracious. The food and wine? Divine. The country delivers on an idyllic mix of antiquities and modernity, but even if the Italians offered me a first class cabin gratis, they’d never get me on their cruise ships. It took two years to bring up the Costa Concordia. Five hundred African immigrants — followed by another 250 — lost their lives off Italy’s coast in one week. Grazi, but I’ll stay ashore if I visit. Capiche?