Monday, December 30, 2019

Presenting…



The third book of Professor’s techno-thriller serial fiction will start on Wednesday, January 1st, 2020, and continue with weekly chapters every Friday starting on January 3rd. It will join Window Weather and The Matriarchy, continuing the story of Sean Carroll and Mary Robinson and their daughter/goddess incarnate, Mareka, as they struggle to find safety and happiness in a modern world gone mad.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Cookie



1933 Pillsbury aluminum recipe book



Sour Cream Molasses Cookies



I usually make it with Zante currants (they are smaller) and replace about a third of the molasses with maple syrup (and a shot of rum or whisky if I’m in a particularly festive mood!) Note the baking time, the printed time is a little hot and too long in my oven; 350° @ 12 minutes seems to work better for me.

If that isn’t enough holiday cheer for you, here is a story about the true meaning of Christmas…

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, December 23, 2019

Love Denied

The Sacrament
A Novel By Olaf Olafsson
HarperCollins, 2019

Olaf Olafsson is an Icelandic businessman who was instrumental in the development of the Sony PlayStation as well as serving as an executive at Time-Warner. If that wasn’t enough of a career, he is also a successful novelist—this is his fifth. I've read some of his other ones and found them competent, if somewhat uninspired. This one is a step up although my personal bias (discussed later) may have something to do with my perceptions.

It is the story of Pauline who becomes enamored of an Icelandic woman (Halla) when they are both attending a Catholic college in Paris in the late sixties. Although the affair unconsummated, the Father in charge separates the two. Twenty years later, Pauline, now Sister Johanna Marie, is sent to Reykjavík to investigate alleged mistreatment of students at the Catholic school there. An event occurs when she is there that is revisited again, twenty years later. The resolution of this mystery (as well as a chance of reconciliation with Halla) drives the plot forward. Although it is well-written, the story jumps in time through the three eras, it is a little confusing at times; this is not a book to be idly read.

My personal take on this book is colored by my experiences in Iceland, including numerous references to places I’ve been—the neighborhood of the church is very familiar to me—at one point Sister Johanna even stays in what appears to be the same room I stayed in in 2006! The story of abuse in the Catholic school also mirrors a real-life scandal that broke a few years ago. This novel is fiction, of course, but it is easy to see where Olaf got some of his inspiration.

I was a little put off by this book at first, I thought that the author may have been in over his head with his focus on the lesbian sub-theme, but he did resolve it by the end.

Recommended

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Friday, December 20, 2019

In Search of Mr. Wright

Plagued By Fire
The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright
By Paul Hendrickson
Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2019

Architecture’s Odd Couple
Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson
By Hugh Howard
Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2016

These two books are among the better of the recent Frank Lloyd Wright biographies, both are well-written and both wisely only cover certain aspects of his life. Plagued By Fire is a look at the way the fates had shaped Wright’s outlook on life. There is a wealth of new, properly researched, information here, including in-depth looks at Julian Carlton, the servant who killed seven at Taliesin in 1915, Frank’s father, William, who left when Frank was a teenager, and Frank’s cousin, Richard Lloyd Jones, who was a
newspaper publisher and a prime instigator of the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. Most of the stories here have been told before but seldom with as much insight and context as Hendrickson does here.

Architecture’s Odd Couple shows how the lives of Wright and Philip Johnson intertwined from 1932 until Johnson’s death in 2005. Johnson was only in his twenties when he put on the first MOMA show of Modern Architecture, insulting Frank when he called him an “… architect of the nineteenth century.” The two were wary of each other after that, although Wright was aware of Johnson’s talents. This book gives a great look into the east coat architecture scene of the 1940s and 1950s and how these two masters competed with each other and, toward the end of Wright’s life, reconciled. Johnson was capable of assimilating various trends in modernism, but lacked the originality of Wright. Wright was not above taking inspiration from others himself (although he would never admit to it), but he rejected the International Style and Classicism that Johnson embraced. There is some overlap in the books, but they are complimentary and worth reading back to back.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Guilty Pleasures

With the onslaught of winter weather The Weaver and I have been cocooning with various film and television offerings, escapism to be sure, but we’ve needed some this fall.

First up is Good Omens, a delightfully quirky take on Armageddon (it isn’t the end of the world) based on the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It is only six one-hour episodes, suitable for either bingeing or savouring (British spelling for effect.) The leads, Michael Sheen and David Tennant as an angel and a demon, are exceptional. Available on Amazon Prime or DVD. We got our copy from the library for a dollar rental fee:



We actually went to the cineplex to see Knives Out, an updated Agatha Christie style whodunit with the decidedly non-James Bond Daniel Craig as a "Southern" sleuth who is hired by persons unknown to investigate the recent death of a popular mystery writer who has an extended family of would-be be heirs, all delightfully degenerate. This is a throwback to the big all-star cast murder mysteries of the past, nearly every character is portrayed by a name star (Christopher Plummer, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Frank Oz) and each actor pushes their performance to the brink of caricature with plenty of clues and red herrings. But all this fun comes at a price: about $40 with popcorn and lemonade! This film will play out just as well on the home screen, so it might be worth waiting six months for it to come out on video or streaming:



Finally, there is the early aughts Brit-Cop show Inspector Lynley’s Mysteries:



These are pretty standard British murder mysteries; what sets them apart is the chemistry between the leads, blue-blood Thomas Lynley (Nathaniel Parker) and chippy working-class Sargent Barbra Havers (Sharon Small); the frisson generated between the two is always worth watching. These are being show on our local PBS station so our “cost of entry” was $0.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Monday, December 16, 2019

Waiting, Wishing, Hoping







Harpa, Reykjavík, October 9, 2012

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, December 13, 2019

Diner


Schubert’s, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.

Eat

Drink

Die(t)

The diner has greens now (but you can still get pie…)

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Monday, December 09, 2019

Angel Coin



I got this in the mail to other day.

A genuine angel coin, sent by the pope himself.

I don’t know that I am worthy of the pontiff’s largesse.

I’ve been bad, and I haven’t been to confession since ever.

I’ll keep it though—it might bring me luck!

And if I should die before I wake,

I’ll take it with me and spend it in heaven.



By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, December 06, 2019

Mal og menning

Coffee for two.

It was a follow-up date: I owed her a café au lait in return for the one she bought me at our last meeting, three years ago. I’ve always liked Scandinavian women: their cool, no-nonsense attitudes, with well-developed powers of appraisal. We had “met”  in the summer of '04, in the “blogosphere”—at the time the hottest thing going on on the internet. Everything was new then, anything was possible, and the whole world was the playing-field. Now, it was no longer the case, most blogs were running on inertia or had simply just given up. My friend had stopped hers: her work and Facebook had replaced the often amusing and sometimes insightful daily reports about her life.

I was in Reykjavík to experience the local music festival, although I had other motives as well. When a dream grabs you and refuses to let go it may mean that it needs some serious up-close and personal attention (or it may mean that you're more than a little unbalanced.) Either way, my previous Icelandic adventures had been very positive, and they certainly had expanded my cultural horizons (and this blog can always use some fresh inspiration!) Since our last meeting things here had changed dramatically; Iceland’s economy was in free-fall, and portents for its future were grim. I had experienced an unsettled year—nothing earth-shaking—just some of those personal situations that have to be lived through with no shortcuts. I knew that my blog-pal had suffered really serious personal set-backs, things which no amount of my sympathy or words of understanding could amend.

Before our meeting, I had just seen a young “girl-group” perform a charming set of original music at the Nordic House, a beautiful cultural center situated near the University. It was as intimate and as quiet a performance as could be imagined. Consequently, I was a little late for our rendezvous, but when I finally made it into the coffee shop I found her waiting with her knitting.  She looked great—a woman who wore her thirties well. As we ordered I felt strangely at peace; after five years of reading each others unfettered thoughts on-line a tacit sense of understanding seemed to exist between us.  

After we had sat down she asked about the music I’d seen. I told her about the girl group, and, as an afterword, I mentioned that one of the few regrets in my life was that I’d never had any daughters. That must have been a very powerful emotional undercurrent for me, brought to the surface by the act I had just seen, for I choked up and was unable speak. My companion gently touched my arm, asking if I was all right. I think she was quite alarmed. Although I wasn’t really upset about my emotional outburst (this kind of thing happens to me all the time), I was sorry that she had to endure this, in what otherwise should have been a very joyous time.  I finally managed to regain my composure but later, as we walked out, she looked at me very closely, and asked; “Are you really alright?”  Although I assured her I was, she did email me later for reassurance that I was.

Some friends are life-long, some friendships flare-up brightly, only to quickly burn out. Some friendships are simply a case of parallel lives, two stars floating in the heavens, each gaining a little from the radiance of the other, then drifting away to oblivion.


Svo lít ég upp og sé við erum saman þarna tvær
stjörnur á blárri festinguni sem færast nær og nær.
Ég man þig þegar augu mín eru opin, hverja stund.
En þegar ég nú legg þau aftur, fer ég á þinn fund.

~Megas

FITK re-run, first posted December 28, 2009

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, December 04, 2019

The Tonearms


Left to right:  Frankie Paradise,  Jerome Broughten,  Nick Radovich (on drums), Paul Scher, and  Larry Hayes

Another image from the Flippist Archives.

The Tonearms were a short-lived Minnesota blues band that was active in the early 1980s,  a turbulent era in local music. There was a (and still is) a vibrant blues scene centered around the Twin Cities, but the gig opportunities for a “straight” blues band were diminishing from a peak of a few years previous. The big names now were Prince, The Replacements and Hüsker Dü, none of whom were blues acts. Still, “da blooz” never dies, and this group definitely had credentials: Larry was one of the founders of Lamont Cranston (who were an inspiration for The Blues Brothers), Frankie and Paul were from The Explodo Boys, Jerome was an alum of Willie and the Bees, and Nick, well, Nick was Nick!

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, December 02, 2019

Last Picture Show



I was digging through the archives the other day, looking for a negative to scan and upload to a Wikipedia page. As I was rummaging, it dawned on me that somewhere in this mess was the last picture I shot with a film camera. I had bought a digital camera by then, but I also took along a medium format film camera. The image above (taken October 25, 2006), is that picture. It was of a moss-covered lava field in Iceland, shot through the window of the shuttle bus returning to the airport.

 If you ever look back on the early days of FITK, you will notice that there weren’t many images in 2004 and 2005 (and some of those are ones I put in later.) I just didn’t take that many pictures then; I thought that writing a blog would be enough, who would post hundreds of pictures to a blog anyway?

I was definitely late to that party.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2