Sunday, October 23, 2016

Book: The Wicked Wit of Oscar Wilde - quotes

Oscar Wilde was a genius wordsmith and this little compendium includes many of his finest gems along with a handy short biography of the man. My favourites are quoted below, with more to follow in future postings:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Thirty-five is a very attractive age. London society is full of women of the very highest birth who have, of their own free choice, remained thirty-five for years. Lady Dumbleton is an instance in point. To my own knowledge she has been thirty-five ever since she arrived at the age of forty, which was many years ago now.

Beauty is he wonder of wonders. It is only the shallow people who do not judge by appearances.

She has exquisite feet and hands, is always a bien chaussee et bien gantee, and can talk brilliantly upon any subject, provided that she knows nothing about it.

To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.

I never saw anybody take so long to dress, and with such little result.

As soon as people are old enough to know better, they don't know anything at all.

The secret in life is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming.

Romance should never begin with sentiment. It should begin with science and end with a settlement.

Ah, nowadays people marry as often as they can, don't they? It is most fashionable.

Good heavens! How marriage ruins a man! It's as demoralising as cigarettes, and far more expensive.

To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.

Oh, I love London Society! It has immensely improved. It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what Society should be.

(I don't know how to talk.)
Oh! talk to every woman as if you loved her, and to every man as if he bored you, and at the end of your first season you will have the reputation of possessing the most perfect social tact.

We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only neccessities.

Arguments are extremely vulgar, for everybody in good society holds exactly the same opinions.

Can't make out how you stand London Society. The thing has gone to the dogs, a lot of damned nobodies talking about nothing.

Nothing is so dangerous as being too modern. One is apt to grow old-fashioned quite suddenly.

We live in the age of the over-worked, and under-educated: the age in which people are so industrious that they become absolutely stupid.

A man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world.

Highlights from The Economist this week

On the effects of police wearing body cameras:

"A study published in September by researchers at the University of Cambridge suggested that body cameras can dramatically reduce the number of complaints made against the police. Over the course of a year almost 2,000 officers, in four forces in Britain and two in America, were randomly given cameras. Compared with the previous year, the number of complaints brought against them dropped by a stonking 93%." 


Key points on the transformation of the bond market: 

* The market is dominated by forced buyers with no real interest in maximising the return on their portfolios:

- Central banks (QE bond buying - trillions of bonds bought)
- Pension funds and insurance companies, which buy government bonds to match their long-term liabilities. Neither group has an incentive to sell bonds if yields fall; indeed, they may need to buy more because, when interest rates are low, the present value of their discounted future liabilities rises.
- Banks, too, play an important role. They have been encouraged to buy government bonds as a “liquidity reserve” to avoid the kind of funding problems they had in the 2008 crisis. They also use them as the collateral for short-term borrowing. 

* With so many forced buyers, trillions of dollars-worth of government bonds are trading on negative yields. “When you have so many price-insensitive buyers, the price-discovery role of the market doesn’t work any more,” says Kit Juckes, a strategist at Société Générale, a French bank.

* “It’s about the return of capital, not the return on capital,” says Joachim Fels, Pimco’s chief economist.
..investors have been forced to take more risk in search of a higher return. They have bought corporate bonds and emerging-market debt. And in the government-bond markets they have bought higher-yielding longer-term debt.

 * In short, as Mr Juckes puts it, the bond market is “brittle”. It is priced for a world of slow growth and low inflation, leaving no margin for error if things change. The most intimidating thing about the modern bond market now is the risk that they do.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Video: Modern day business meetings

It's funny because it's true.

Here's another one:

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Video: Louis C.K. hates cell phones

Not yet owning a personal smart phone makes me feel smug and stupid at the same time

: S

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

Quotes by Hunter S. Thompson - Fact and Fiction

Before we get into the quotes proper, here is Hunter S.Thompson on the writing process, taken from the Paris Review:
Question - What is your instrument in composing? You are one of the few writers I know who still uses an electric typewriter. What’s wrong with a personal computer?
Answer: I’ve tried. There is too much temptation to go over the copy and rewrite. I guess I’ve never grown accustomed to the silent, non-clacking of the keys and the temporary words put up on the screen. I like to think that when I type something on this [pointing to the typewriter], when I’m finished with it, it’s good. I haven’t gotten past the second paragraph on a word processor. Never go back and rewrite while you’re working. Keep on it as if it were final.
The quotes noted below are a mixture of fact and fiction. 
We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.
I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me. 
These things happen. One day you run everything, and the next day you run like a dog. Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously. You won't find reasonable men on the tops of tall mountains. 
Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing. 
He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master. 
The best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism. 
The truth, when you finally chase it down is almost always far worse than your darkest visions and fears. 
 There are times, however, and this is one of them when even being right feels wrong. 
 THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is the ones who have gone over...  
 Let us toast to animal pleasures, to escapism, to rain on the roof and instant coffee, to unemployment insurance and library cards, to absinthe and good-hearted landlords, to music and warm bodies and contraceptives… and to the good life, whatever it is and wherever it happens to be.  
So we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?
A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.  
I have long understood that losing always comes with the territory when you wander into the gambling business, just as getting crippled for life is an acceptable risk in the linebacker business. They both are extremely violent sports, and pain is part of the bargain. Buy the ticket, take the ride.  
I just usually go with my own taste. If I like something, and it happens to be against the law, well, then I might have a problem. 

We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers... and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.Not that we needed all that for the trip, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  
Like most others, I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. I was never idle long enough to do much thinking, but I felt somehow that some of us were making real progress, that we had taken an honest road, and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. At the same time, I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause, that we were all actors, kidding ourselves along on a senseless odyssey. It was the tension between these two poles - a restless idealism on one hand and a sense of impending doom on the other - that kept me going.― Hunter S. Thompson, The Rum Diary  
Every now and then when your life gets complicated and the weasels start closing in, the only cure is to load up on heinous chemicals and then drive like a bastard from Hollywood to Las Vegas ... with the music at top volume and at least a pint of ether.― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas  
It was like falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool full of mermaids. 
I felt a tremendous distance between myself and everything real.  
Beware of enthusiasm and of love, both are temporary and quick to sway.  
A man who has blown all his options can't afford the luxury of changing his ways. He has to capitalize on whatever he has left, and he can't afford to admit — no matter how often he's reminded of it — that every day of his life takes him farther and farther down a blind alley.  
The streets of every city in America are filled with men who would pay all the money they could lay their hands on to be transformed, even for a day, into hairy, hard-fisted brutes who walk all over cops, extort drinks from terrified bartenders and roar out of town on big motorcycles...  
I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I... And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots.

The importance of Liking Yourself is a notion that fell heavily out of favour during the coptic, anti-ego frenzy of the acid era — but nobody guessed back then that the experiment might churn up this kind of hangover; a whole subculture of frightened illiterates with no faith in anything.
I find that by putting things in writing I can understand them and see them a little more objectively. … For words are merely tools and if you use the right ones you can actually put even your life in order, if you don't lie to yourself and use the wrong words. 
I had come to regard him as a loner with no real past and a future so vague there was no sense talking about it.
The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now — with somebody — and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.Kingdom of Fear (12 September 2001)  
We are turning into a nation of whimpering slaves to Fear — fear of war, fear of poverty, fear of random terrorism, fear of getting down-sized or fired because of the plunging economy, fear of getting evicted for bad debts, or suddenly getting locked up in a military detention camp on vague charges of being a Terrorist sympathizer.
I understand that fear is my friend, but not always. Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.


Photo: Kitten pics - no mice were hurt during this production

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Comic: Dilberts

A modern day conundrum:

Friday, September 16, 2016

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Photos: Starksy and Rocky (cats)

Here are some pics of the feline residents at the new place I'm lodging at:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Book: Don't Tell Mum I Work on the Rigs by Paul Carter

I picked this one up because I work in the Oil & Gas sector and wanted to know more about life on the rigs. The book doesn't offer much by way of quotables but it is very snappy with no filler, and Carter knows how to keep the reader hooked - he focuses on the gruesome (there are several deaths along the way), the hair-raising, and the hilarious, and offers lots of interesting observations about all the different countries he visits; it's a long list including the likes of Australia, Japan, Singapore, Scotland, Brunei, Nigeria, Philippines, China, Russia.


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Book review: The Spike Milligan Letter

This collection of letters, which comes with an insightful introduction by Norma Farnes - Spike's manager/PA - makes for a near perfect portrait of this much loved comedian.

Milligan gave us a world of comedic nonsenses but these letters he was also caring humanitarian, with a strong sense of civic pride, and that he would try to make a difference wherever possible, typically by putting pen to paper. My favourite letters include:

  • A letter to an MP decrying the local councils reckless destruction of beautiful historic buildings.
  • A request to the manager to of a band (The New Seekers) to come collect his mail. The manager was the previous occupant of Spike's office. 'The inmates of my office are taking mountaineering lessons and using breathing apparatus every morning to surmount the South Col of the mountain called The New Seekers Height. Samples of this mountain have been taken and analysed as being made from fan letters, some 2,000 years old.' 
  • A letter asking for a bird bath belonging to a soon-to-be demolished property, to be gifted to the National Trust. This is followed up by a short letter advising that while the authorities have been dithering the bird bath has been broken by vandals.
  • A series of letters to and from the phone authority are also classic.
  • His letter to the Ministry of Public Buildings & Works, that results in the council retaining historic Victorian lamps. 

Monday, August 01, 2016

Book quotes: Something Fresh by P.G. Wodehouse

Something Fresh is another re-read, because there's nothing quite so comforting as returning to a Wodehouse. Here is the original review.


The sunshine of a fair Spring morning fell graciously on London town. Out in Piccadilly its heartening warmth seemed to infuse into traffic and pedestrians alike a novel jauntiness, so that bus drivers jested and even the lips of chauffeurs uncurled into not unkindly smiles. Policemen whistled at their posts--clerks, on their way to work; beggars approached the task of trying to persuade perfect strangers to bear the burden of their maintenance with that optimistic vim which makes all the difference. It was one of those happy mornings.

Day and night the human flood roars past..

This son, christened Ashe after a wealthy uncle who subsequently double-crossed them by leaving his money to charities, in due course proceeded to Harvard to study for the ministry. So far as can be ascertained from contemporary records, he did not study a 4 great deal for the ministry; but he did succeed in running the mile in four minutes and a half and the half mile at a correspondingly rapid speed, and his researches in the art of long jumping won him the respect of all.

But owing to the pressure of other engagements he unfortunately omitted to do any studying, and when the hour of parting arrived he was peculiarly unfitted for any of the learned professions. Having, however, managed to obtain a sort of degree, enough to enable him to call himself a Bachelor of Arts, and realizing that you can fool some of the people some of the time, he applied for and secured a series of private tutorships.

It is in the Spring that the ache for the Larger Life comes on us...

Three months ago a million girls could have laughed at his morning exercises without turning him from his purpose. Today this one scoffer, alone and unaided, was sufficient for his undoing. The depression which exercise had begun to dispel surged back on him. He had no heart to continue. Sadly gathering up his belongings, he returned to his room, and found a cold bath tame and uninspiring. The breakfasts--included in the rent--provided by Mrs. Bell, the landlady of Number Seven, were held by some authorities to be specially designed to quell the spirits of their victims, should they tend to soar excessively.

"Does the Mammoth publish you, too? Why, we are comrades in misfortune--fellow serfs! We should be friends. Shall we be friends?"
"I should be delighted."
"Shall we shake hands, sit down, and talk about ourselves a little?"
"But I am keeping you from your work."
"An errand of mercy."

"Read the papers. Read the advertisement columns. I'm sure you will find something sooner or later. Don't get into a groove. Be an adventurer. Snatch at the next chance, whatever it is."

He had very little mind, but what he had was suffering.

For the space of some minutes he remained plunged in sad meditation...

The Earl of Emsworth was so constituted that no man or thing really had the power to trouble him deeply; but Freddie had come nearer to doing it than anybody else in the world.

"Don't, old man! Dickie, old top--please! I know all about it. I read the reports. They made poor old Percy look like an absolute ass."
"Well, Nature had done that already; but I'm bound to say they improved on Nature's work. I should think your Cousin Percy must have felt like a plucked chicken."

Whatever was the attraction across the room once more exercised its spell. His lordship concentrated himself on it to the exclusion of all other mundane matters. Presently he came out of his trance again.

The cold beef had the effect of restoring his lordship to complete amiability, and when Adams in the course of his wanderings again found himself at the table he was once more disposed for light conversation.

"...Tell me, Adams, have I eaten my cheese?"

"Well, it's deuced peculiar! I have no recollection whatsoever of placing that fork in my pocket . . . Adams, I want a taxicab." He glanced round the room, as though expecting to locate one by the fireplace.

"What a nut!" said Adams to his immortal soul.
Wafted through the sunlit streets in his taxicab, the Earl of Emsworth smiled benevolently on London's teeming millions. He was as completely happy as only a fluffy-minded old man with excellent health and a large income can be. Other people worried about all sorts of things--strikes, wars, suffragettes, the diminishing birth rate, the growing materialism of the age, a score of similar subjects. Worrying, indeed, seemed to be the twentieth-century specialty. Lord Emsworth never worried. Nature had equipped him with a mind so admirably constructed for withstanding the disagreeableness of life that if an unpleasant thought entered it, it passed out again a moment later.

His was a life that lacked, perhaps, the sublimer emotions which 55 raise man to the level of the gods; but undeniably it was an extremely happy one. He never experienced the thrill of ambition fulfilled; but, on the other hand, he never knew the agony of ambition frustrated. His name, when he died, would not live forever in England's annals; he was spared the pain of worrying about this by the fact that he had no desire to live forever in England's annals. He was possibly as nearly contented as a human being could be in this century of alarms and excursions.

The specialist was proud of his collection.
"How long? To make a collection as large as mine? Years, Mr. Peters. Oh, many, many years."
"I'll bet you a hundred dollars I'll do it in six months!"
From that moment Mr. Peters brought to the collecting of scarabs the same furious energy which had given him so many dollars and so much indigestion. He went after scarabs like a dog after rats. He scooped in scarabs from the four corners of the earth, until at the end of a year he found himself possessed of what, purely as regarded quantity, was a record collection.

Collecting, as Mr. Peters did it, resembles the drink habit. It begins as an amusement and ends as an obsession.
He was gloating over his treasures when the maid announced Lord Emsworth. A curious species of mutual toleration--it could hardly be dignified by the title of friendship--had sprung up between these two men, so opposite in practically every respect. Each regarded the other with that feeling of perpetual amazement with which we encounter those whose whole viewpoint and mode of life is foreign to our own. The American's force and nervous energy fascinated Lord Emsworth. As for Mr. Peters, nothing like the earl had ever happened to him before in a long and varied life. Each, in fact, was to the other a perpetual freak show, with no charge for admission.

Mr. Peters, in his character of showman, threw himself into his work with even more than his customary energy. His flow of speech never faltered. He spoke of the New Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, Osiris and Ammon; waxed eloquent concerning Mut, Bubastis, Cheops, the Hyksos kings, cylinders, bezels and Amenophis III; and became at times almost lyrical when touching on Queen Taia, the Princess Gilukhipa of Mitanni, the lake of Zarukhe, Naucratis 64 and the Book of the Dead. Time slid by.

"I have--pretty nearly. It's all right for you idle rich, Aline--you can sit still and contemplate life; but we poor working girls have got to hustle."

The 'Wanted' column of the morning paper is a sort of dredger, which churns up strange creatures from the mud of London's underworld. Only in response to the dredger's operations do they come to the surface in such numbers as to be noticeable, for as a rule they are of a solitary habit and shun company; but when they do come they bring with them something of the horror of the depths.

Suspicion furrowed her brow.

There are moments in a man's life when a girl's smile can have as important results as an explosion of dynamite.

He had reached that depth of gloom and bodily discomfort when a sudden smile has all the effect of strong liquor and good news administered simultaneously, warming the blood and comforting the soul, and generally turning the world from a bleak desert into a land flowing with milk and honey.

The east wind explored his system with chilly fingers.

The deeper he went into this business the more things did there seem to be in it of which he had not thought.

'It sounds thin to me'

"Your sort of man makes me sick. I know your type inside out. You overwork and shirk exercise, and let your temper run away 178 with you, and smoke strong cigars on an empty stomach; and when you get indigestion as a natural result you look on yourself as a martyr, nourish a perpetual grouch, and make the lives of everybody you meet miserable. If you would put yourself into my hands for a month I would have you eating bricks and thriving on them. Up in the morning, Larsen Exercises, cold bath, a brisk rubdown, sharp walk--"

 The Blandings chef had extended himself in honor of the house party, and had produced a succession of dishes, which in happier days Mr. Peters would have devoured eagerly. To be compelled by considerations of health to pass these by was enough to damp the 207 liveliest optimist. Mr. Peters had suffered terribly. Occasions of feasting and revelry like the present were for him so many battlefields, on which greed fought with prudence.

He proceeded to mount the stairs. He was sorry for Mr. Peters, so shortly about to be roused from a refreshing slumber; but these were life's tragedies and must be borne bravely.

"Believe me," said Ashe earnestly, "it will not be handed to you. I have studied the Baxter question more deeply than you have, and I can assure you that Baxter is a menace. What has put him so firmly on the right scent I don't know; but he seems to have divined the exact state of affairs in its entirety..."

The memory of Mr. Muldoon's cold shower baths and brisk system of physical exercise still lingered.

 Superhuman though he was, George was alive to the delicacy of the situation. One cannot convey food and drink to one's room in a strange house without, if detected, seeming to cast a slur on the table of the host. It was as one who carries dispatches through an enemy's lines that George took cover, emerged from cover, dodged, ducked and ran; and the moment when he sank down on his bed, the door locked behind him, was one of the happiest of his life.

One has to go back to the worst excesses of the French Revolution to parallel these outrages.

Listen to me, Joan. Where's your sense of fairness? You crash into my life, turn it upside down, dig me out of my quiet groove, revolutionize my whole existence; and now you propose to drop me and pay no further attention to me. Is it fair?

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Book review: The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

The Old Man and The Sea, which I first read ten years ago, is just as good on the second visit. The style of writing is unique. It grabs you from the get-go and never lets up, taking the reader on the journey of a life-time with a tired old fisherman who is locked in a 'to the death' battle with a giant marlin.



...he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.

The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

No one would steal from the old man but it was better to take the sail and the heavy lines home as the dew was bad for them and, though he was quite sure no local people would steal from him, the old man thought that a gaff and a harpoon were needless temptations to leave in a boat.

The old man opened his eyes and for a moment he was coming back from a long way away. Then he smiled.

 I can always come in on the glow from Havana. There are two more hours before the sun sets and maybe he will come up before that. If he doesn’t maybe he will come up with the moon. If he does not do that maybe he will come up with the sunrise. I have no cramps and I feel strong. It is he that has the hook in his mouth. But what a fish to pull like that. He must have his mouth shut tight on the wire. I wish I could see him. I wish I could see him only once to know what I have against me.

He could ruin me by jumping or by a wild rush.

'Fish,' he said softly, aloud, 'I'll stay with you until I am dead.'

'Fish,' he said, 'I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you before this day ends.'

I wish I was the fish, he thought, with everything he has against only my will and my intelligence.

He settled comfortably against the wood and took the suffering as it came and the fish swan steadily and the boat moved slowly through the dark water.

“But you have not slept yet, old man,” he said aloud. “It is half a day and a night and now another day and you have not slept. You must devise a way so that you sleep a little if he is quiet and steady. If you do not sleep you might become unclear in the head.” I’m clear enough in the head, he thought. Too clear. I am as clear as the stars that are my brothers. Still I must sleep. They sleep and the moon and the sun sleep and even the ocean sleeps sometimes on certain days when there is no current and a flat calm.

... I could go without sleeping, he told himself. But it would be too dangerous.

But the fish kep on circling slowly and the old mand was wet with sweat and tired deep into his bones...

I must hold the pain where it is, he though. Mine does not matter. I can control mine. But his pain could drive him mad.

He saw him first as a dark shadow that took so long to pass under that boat that he could not believe its length.

But I must get him close, close, close, he thought. I mustn't try for the head. I must get the heart.

“Fish,” the old man said. “Fish, you are going to have to die anyway. Do you have to kill me too?” That way nothing is accomplished, he thought. His mouth was too dry to speak but he could not reach for the water now. I must get him alongside this time, he thought. I am not good for many more turns. Yes you are, he told himself. You’re good for ever. On the next turn, he nearly had him. But again the fish righted himself and swam slowly away. You are killing me, fish, the old man thought. But you have a right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful, or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.

He felt the iron go in and he leaned on it and drove it further and then pushed all his weight after it. Then the fish came alive, with his death in him, and rose high out of the water showing all his great length and width and all his power and his beauty. He seemed to hang in the air above the old man in the skiff. Then he fell into the water with a crash that sent spray over the old man and over all of the skiff.

He’s over fifteen hundred pounds the way he is, he thought. Maybe much more. If he dresses out two-thirds of that at thirty cents a pound?

It was an hour before the first shark hit him.

“But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” I am sorry that I killed the fish though, he thought. Now the bad time is coming and I do not even have the harpoon. The dentuso is cruel and able and strong and intelligent. But I was more intelligent than he was. Perhaps not, he thought. Perhaps I was only better armed.

The old man knew a very bad time was coming.

“I shouldn’t have gone out so far, fish,” he said. “Neither for you nor for me. I’m sorry, fish.”

“Half fish,” he said. “Fish that you were. I am sorry that I went too far out. I ruined us both. But we have killed many sharks, you and I, and ruined many others. How many did you ever kill, old fish? You do not have that spear on your head for nothing.” He liked to think of the fish and what he could do to a shark if he were swimming free. I should have chopped the bill off to fight them with, he thought. But there was no hatchet and then there was no knife.

I should have some luck. No, he said. You violated your luck when you when too far outside.

The wind is our friend, anyway, he thought. Then he added, sometimes. And the great sea with our friends and our enemies. And bed, he thought. Bed is my friend. Just bed, he thought. Bed will be a great thing. It is easy when you are beaten, he thought. I never knew how easy it was. And what beat you, he thought. “Nothing,” he said aloud. “I went out too far.”

The boy saw that the old man was breathing and then he saw the old man’s hands and he started to cry. He went out very quietly to go to bring some coffee and all the way down the road he was crying. Many fishermen were around the skiff looking at what was lashed beside it and one was in the water, his trousers rolled up, measuring the skeleton with a length of line. The boy did not go down. He had been there before and one of the fishermen was looking after the skiff for him.
“How is he?” one of the fishermen shouted.
“Sleeping,” the boy called. He did not care that they saw him crying.
“Let no one disturb him.”
“He was eighteen feet from nose to tail,” the fisherman who was measuring him called.
“I believe it,” the boy said.

Finally the old man woke.
“Don’t sit up,” the boy said.
“Drink this.” He poured some of the coffee in a glass. The old man took it and drank it.
“They beat me, Manolin,” he said.
“They truly beat me.”
“He didn’t beat you. Not the fish.”
“No. Truly. It was afterwards.”

Idea for comments

When I read interesting articles, I like to see what other readers are thinking by perusing the comments section. The problem is the default is for the comments to be sorted by 'date order' and you have to click on 'reader recommended' to view the comments that have been voted up by the crowd.

Why not reduce the font size by a few points and split the comments into two columns, with the most recommended comments in the left column and a river of the the latest comments in the right column. Simple.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Book review: A Christmas Momeory by Truman Capote

My edition of Breakfast at Tiffany's (pictured above) includes a short story titled 'A Christmas Memory'. This proved to be the true prize of the book, turning it in to a keeper.

I hope to return to this tale every year. It's just fifteen pages long and is perfect in every way.


Book quotes - Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

Here are some more quotes from Breakfast at Tiffany's.
"... An agent could ask for more? Then wham! The Story of Dr. Wassell. You see that picture? Cecil B. DeMille. Gary Cooper. Jesus. I kill myself, it's all set: they're going to test her for the part of Dr. Wassell's nurse. One of his nurses, anyway. Then wham! The phone rings." He picked a telephone out of the air and held it to his ear. "She says, this is Holly, I say honey, you sound far away, she says I'm in New York, I say what the hell are you doing in New York when it's Sunday and you got the test tomorrow? She says I'm in New York cause I've never been to New York. I say get your ass on a plane and get back here, she says I don't want it. I say what's your angle, doll? She says you got to want it to be good and I don't want it, I say well, what the hell do you want, and she says when I find out you'll be the first to know."  
"She (Mag Wildwood) was a triumph over ugliness, so often more beguiling than real beauty, if only because it contains paradox. In this case, as opposed to the scrupulous method of plain good taste and scientific grooming, the trick had been worked by exaggerating defects; she'd made them ornamental by admitting them boldly. Heels that emphasized her height, so steep her ankles trembled; a flat tight bodice that indicated she could go to a beach in bathing trunks; hair that was pulled straight back, accentuating the spareness, the starvation of her fashion-model face. Even the stutter, certainly genuine but still a bit laid on, had been turned to advantage. It was the master stroke, that stutter; for it contrived to make her banalities sound somehow original, and secondly, despite her tallness, her assurance, it served to inspire in male listeners a protective feeling."

Book review - Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote

My expectation of 'Breakfast at Tiffany’s' by Truman Capote was similar to my expectation of the film (still unseen); that it would be a breezy piece of enjoyable froth. I was far off the mark. Capote's famous short story is richly put together and the central character, Miss Holly Golightly, is far more complex than I had anticipated. This is a memorable piece of writing about the human condition and a great story to boot. Fantastic.

**** 1/2


‘I don’t want to own anything until I’ve found the place where me and things belong together. I’m not quite sure where that is just yet. But I know what it’s like.’ - Holly Golightly

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Video - How Olive Oil is Made

This short video explains the difference between traditional and modern olive oil manufacturing techniques: