Thursday, November 27, 2014

T'giving 2

Exactly like the Boylan spread tonight. Minus the kindly grandparents and kids, plus a small yapping Belgian dog, vodka, and Chianti. Otherwise: identical.

Thanksgiving 2014

Nothing original here. But sometimes one is required by circumstances to be not original but sincere. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Halcyon Days (And Now)

Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, when my books were enjoying a certain success in the German-speaking world, and I was going on book tours and giving readings in Germany and Austria, I thought a more Germanic appearance might be just the thing. 

So here's Herr Professor Boylan, ca. 2002. 

And here's what he's become:

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Twain's Advice

Why so few posts these days? Because I'm following Mark Twain's advice pretty closely, with mixed results: "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."

I wonder how closely he abided by his own dictum. Here he is putting all kinds of things off....

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Evacuation, Paris 1940

From The Adorations:

     Ignace’s train left from the Gare de Lyon. The north-south metro lines were packed, so they walked down the Boul’ Mich’ and across the Ile de la Cité to the Place du Châtelet to catch the No. 1 Neuilly-Vincennes train eastbound. The flood of refugees down the Boul’ Mich’ appeared to have dwindled, but it had merely been diverted to the outer boulevards to permit greater freedom of movement in the central city to military and police. Indeed, on the avenues of the inner arrondissements there seemed to be little traffic other than taxis commandeered by the government, lorries loaded high with ministerial documents and filing cabinets, nervous gendarmes on bicycles, and army trucks and ambulances containing stained and weary soldiers from the ever-approaching front lines. The few people left on the streets were standing in small groups, brandishing newspapers (the Petit Parisien: “The Day of Reckoning Is At Hand! Pray to Ste. Geneviève!”). The words “le Maréchal” were invoked in measured, reverential tones, like the name of God, Whose grand old Gothic house of Notre Dame was filling with worshippers as Stefanie, Sami and Ignace walked by. The Cathedral’s great bell, Marie-Thérèse, tolled as she had tolled so often in the centuries before for plague and famine and worse, for the catastrophes of Man’s making, war and siege and massacre; dong…dong…dong she rang, into the sweet breezes of May and out over the paralysed city and across the golden wheatfields of the Ile-de-France toward the approaching darkness from the east. It was a funeral service for the nation.
    Sami spat.
    Fumier,” he said. “They’re praying for a miracle. Poor fools.”   
     The Gare de Lyon was seething. On the quais for the southbound trains were groups of foreigners eager to get out, Parisian families dispatching children to relatives in the supposed safety of the provinces, lesser stars of stage and screen heading to the balmier climes of the Cote d’Azur (“Look!” said Ignace erroneously; “there’s Jean-Louis Barrault!”), and insurance salesmen and estate agents spotting the main chance in the midst of chaos (“we’ll take over your house and garden while you’re away, get you a good price, Boches or no Boches”). Loudspeakers crackled incessantly and incomprehensibly. Whistles blew; locomotives heaved mighty sighs. Porters were being tested to the limits of their strength. Ignace hoisted his modest valise onto his back and trotted happily toward the train, as if headed to Arcachon for a fortnight at the beach. Stefanie, hurrying to keep up, admired her son’s carelessness, his unthinking health, the fluency of his muscles, and she saw him—with the pride none but a mother can know—as an affirmation of life, hers and his; as her legacy to the world, a vigorous young man with all the setbacks and sadness of life before him but with much joy ahead, too, and love, and creation—even if it was only in the sound of an airplane engine, or a racing car…with God’s grace, and the Holy Mother’s.
      Revoir, maman,” he said, muffled by Stefanie’s devouring embrace. He was leaving her for the first time, really, except for a cycling trip in the Vendée two years earlier. But that had been only for five days, and this would be for God knew how long. Sami shook hands formally, with a slight inclination of the head, like an ambassador presenting credentials. Impatient, the boy elbowed his way onto the train through the leave-taking couples and bawling children and officious conductors and reappeared, waving, at the window of a compartment in the middle of  the carriage, directly above the waybill on the side of the carriage that read PARIS (Gare de Lyon)-Sens-Auxerre-Beaune-Mâcon-Bourg-Bellegarde-GENEVE (Cornavin).
         “I want to go, too,” said Stefanie through her tears.
         “You should,” said Sami. “You must.”
         She agreed.

         But then she changed her mind and insisted on staying in Paris.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tom Magliozzi, 1937-2014

This made me sad: Tom Magliozzi is dead at age 77. Such was my affection for him, and for both the Magliozzi brothers (Tom and Ray, "Click and Clack") that I felt the need to post my own humble homage to the late Tom, son of immigrants who put himself through M.I.T. and devoted his life to cars, good company, and hilarity. A lot of what I know about cars--and a lot of what I don't--I got from Tom and Ray. 

RIP, maestro. 

"Car Talk" site, and other memories of Tom: