You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.
~ Abraham Lincoln

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I had heard of the September release of the “Cheek to Cheek” album Tony Bennett had recorded with Lady Gaga, but hadn’t paid further attention to it, thinking it was just a publicity stunt by a has-been and a would-be.

 

But the album started off a flurry of interviews, press conferences, and TV shows in Belgium. There even was a concert on the Brussels Grand Place.

 

So it came about that of an evening, I watched “The Zen of Tony Bennett on TV”. It’s a nice documentary, centered around the recording sessions for a previous album —Duets II—in which Mr. Bennett sings jazz standards with a variety of top notch artists, such as Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, Michael Bublé, John Mayer, etc., to celebrate his eighty-fifth birthday. I liked the movie, mainly for the music, but I didn’t think it was all that interesting, overall. Frankly, Mr. Bennett doesn’t have very much to say, it seems to me.

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posted by Larry
Dec 15 2014

Watched Adrian Lyne’s 9 ½ Weeks again the other day.

 

Thirty years on, the world has changed. Especially since Fifty Shades of Gray.

Now, I haven’t read the latter. I picked up my wife’s copy once, read a couple of chapters, and decided it was not for me. I didn’t think it was all that well written, but that’s neither here nor there. But that’s just me. That doesn’t say anything about the book, which sold over 100 million copies. Certainly that makes for some sort of quality label.

I guess.

Anyway, 100 million copies sold (and it’s safe to assume even more people read the book) means that all these people got hooked on the eroticism of the series. I mean, they buy the first installment, and then go on buying #2 and #3. One has to assume they do so because they like #1. Unless, of course, they’re all completists. But I digress.

 

All this to come down to the crux of the matter: how well does 9 ½ Weeks stand up today?

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posted by Larry

I’ve reread Tom Sharpe’s “The Wilt Alternative” a couple of weeks ago, while on vacation. The plot revolves around a German student (Gudrun Schautz) the Wilt family lets an attic room to in their home, who turns out to be planning all sorts of terrorist assaults together with her Argentinian and Irish coreligionists. Of course this is all redolent of Ulrike Meinhof and the Rote Armee Fraktion. At some point, Wilt and Gudrun are together in the Wilt home, surrounded by the police, who suspect Will of being an accomplice of Schautz’s and her cronies. What follows is outrageously funny, convoluted, complicated. Read the book: it’s pure, undiluted Sharpe.

 

Now, why do I mention this? In the last few months and weeks, we’ve been confronted with gruesome, sadistic acts of the most loathsome violence, all (allegedly) in the name of some vague ideal. And I was reminded of what Sharpe had written, so I looked it up again. I’m giving it verbatim, because I think the text speaks for itself. Of course, it’s politically extremely incorrect, and it’s not really kind on German philosophers. But I think it’s spot on…

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posted by Larry

The dinosaurs when phht… over 60 millions years ago.

And then, someone invented the typewriter.

 

If, like yours truly, you’re old and decrepit, and you’re afflicted with osteoporosis or a receding hairline—as the case may be—, failing eyesight and/or hearing, then you’ll remember the ruddy contraptions. Of course, the internet generation has no idea.

When I was a kid, we had a German portable Adler. And when I say portable, I really should say transportable. Anyway, it was really a wonderful piece of German grundlich engineering. Solid and stolid, I suspect it was made of cast iron. With some lead in the bottom, for added gravitas. I know where my father got his hernia from. Plus, it was your regular knuckle-bender. Getting any letter on paper required determination, stamina, and a healthy breakfast. Today’s keyboards are for wimps. In actual fact, fifty years on I still strike the keys so hard that more often than not, my Apple keyboard either misses the strike, or forms the letter twice.

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posted by Larry
Aug 27 2014

Many friends have asked me why I write in English. Believe it or not, I don’t know. That is to say, I don’t know how come. All I have is circumstantial evidence (hear the lawyer talking…).

First of all, and even though technically I should say I was raised as a native Dutch speaker, in practical reality my sister and I were raised trilingual: French, Dutch and English. French and Dutch were the “working languages”, but as my parents spoke English whenever they didn’t want us kids to understand, of course by the time we were five or six, we had a reasonably firm grasp of the language (and of course, our parents didn’t cotton on to the fact until a couple of years later). That was reinforced by the ubiquity of English on TV and in the movies: since American and British TV series or movies are not dubbed in Belgium, but sub-titled, by the time my sister and I could read, we were getting free English courses whenever we were watching TV.

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posted by Larry

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