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Good Mountain Press Monthly Digest #103
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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Soupy Sales (1926 -2009) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ Comedian, 1950s Kid's TV Show, Pie-in-the-Face Guy ~~~~~

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~~~ GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS DIGEST #103 Published March 1, 2010 ~~~
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Quote for the lead-into-Spring Month of March:

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.
Pablo Picasso , 20th Century Artist

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Archived Digests

             Table of Contents

1. March's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for March
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe of the Month from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen: Grilled Salmon with Avocadoes
6. Poem from February 4, 2010:"Shadow Trees"
7. Reviews and Articles Added for March:

8. Commentary on the World
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, unsubscribing to Digest
10. Gratitude

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#1 Jul  #2, Aug  #3, Sept  #4, Oct  #5, Nov  #6, Dec  #7
2001: Jan  #8,  Feb  #9,  Mar #10, Apr #11, May #12, Jun #13, Jul #14, Aug #15, Sep #16, Oct #17, Nov #18, Dec #19
2002: Jan #20, Feb #21, Mar #22, Apr #23, May #24, Jun #25, Jul #26, Aug #27, Sep #28, Oct #29, Nov #30, Dec #31
2003: Jan #32, Feb #33, Mar #34, Apr #35, May #36, Jun #37, Jul #38, Aug #39, Sep #40, Oct #41, Nov #42, Dec #43
2004: Jan #44, Feb #45, Mar #46, Apr #47, May #48, Jun #49, Jul #50, Aug #51, Sep #52, Oct #53, Nov #54, Dec #55
2005: Jan#051,Feb#052,Mar#053,Apr#054,May#055,Jun#056,Jul#057,Aug#058,Sep#059,Oct#05a,Nov#05b,Dec#05c
2006: Jan#061,Feb#062,Mar#063,Apr#064,May#065,Jun#066,Jul#067,Aug#068,Sep#069,Oct#06a,Nov#06b,Dec#06c
2007: Jan#071,Feb#072,Mar#073,Apr#074,May#075,Jun#076,Jul#077,Aug#078,Sep#079,Oct#07a,Nov#07b,Dec#07c
2008: Jan#081,Feb#082,Mar#083,Apr#084,May#085,Jun#086,Jul#087,Aug#088,Sep#089,Oct#08a,Nov#08b,Dec#08c
2009: Jan#091,Feb#092,Mar#093,Apr#094,May#095,Jun#096,Jul#097,Aug#098,Sep#099,Oct#09a,Nov#09b,Dec#09c
2010: Jan#101,Feb#102,Mar#103,Apr#104,May#105,Jun#106,Jul#107,Aug#108,Sep#109,Oct#10a,Nov#10b,Dec#10c
2011: Jan#111,Feb#112,Mar#113,Apr#114,May#115,Jun#116,Jul#117,Aug#118,Sep#119,Oct#11a,Nov#11b,Dec#11c
2012: Jan#121,Feb#122,Mar#123,Apr#124,May#125,Jun#126,Jul#127,Aug#128,Sep#129,Oct#12a,Nov#12b,Dec#12c
2013: Jan#131,Feb#132,Mar#133,Apr#134,May#135,Jun#136,Jul#137,Aug#138,Sep#139,Oct#13a,Nov#13b,Dec#13c
2014: Jan#141,Feb#142,Mar#143,Apr#144,May#145,Jun#146,Jul#147,Aug#148,Sep#149,Oct#14a,Nov#14b,Dec#14c
2015: Jan#151,Feb#152,Mar#153,Apr#154,May#155,Jun#156,Jul#157,Aug#158,Sep#159,Oct#15a,Nov#15b,Dec#15c
2016: Jan#161,Feb#162,Mar#163,Apr#164,May#165,Jun#166,Jul#167,Aug#168,Sep#169,Oct#16a,Nov#16b,Dec#16c
2017: Jan#171,Feb#172,Mar#173,Apr#174,May#175,Jun#176,Jul#177,Aug#178,Sep#179,Oct#17a,Nov#17b,Dec#17c
2018: Jan#181,Feb#182,Mar#183,Apr#184,May#185,Jun#186,Jul#187,Aug#188,Sep#189,Oct#18a,Nov#18b,Dec#18c
2019: Jan#191,Feb#192,Mar#193,Apr#194,May#195,Jun#196,Jul#197,Aug#198,Sep#199,Oct#19a

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1. March Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
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For newcomers to the Digest, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons! Check it out at: Also note the rotating calendar and clock that follows just to the right of your mouse pointer as you scroll down the page. You'll also see the clock on the 404 Error page if you make a mistake typing a URL while on the website.

The Violet-n-Joey Cartoon page is been divided into two pages: one low-speed and one high-speed access. If you have Do NOT Have High-Speed Access, you may try this Link which will load much faster and will allow you to load one cartoon at a time. Use this one for High-Speed Access.

This month Violet and Joey learn about Finishing Sentences.

#1 "Finishing Sentences" at

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Each month we take time to thank two of our good readers of Good Mountain Press Digest, books and reviews. Here's our two worthy Honored Readers for this month. One of their names will be in the TO: address line of your email Digest notification. Our Honored Readers for March are:

Dean Matherne in Thibodaux, LA

Jo Anne Buckner in Florida

Congratulations, Dean and Jo Anne !

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Out Our Way:


Unless you're a first time reader of my Digest, you'll likely know that the New Orleans NFL Football Saints have been nearly undefeated all year, losing only three meaningless games after locking in home field advantage for the playoffs. Folks thought we might beat the Cardinals, but we'd certainly lose to the powerful Vikings, and if we were lucky enough to make it to Miami for the Super Bowl, we would be whipped in the fourth quarter by the Colts. How could we possibly beat ALL three of the best quarterbacks in NFL's recent history? Kurt Warner, Brett Favre, and Peyton Manning? No way, Jose!

But our Saints' defensive squad, well-rested during those losing efforts and the two week Bye, came on strong to introduce Kurt Warner to the floor of the Superdome, repeatedly. The result was a strong Win, going away at the end.

Next came the swashbuckling Vikings came into the Superdome intent on doing to New Orleans what their namesakes did to the coast of England during their invasions: lay waste to the Saints team, that mere speed bump in their way to Miami. Once again the Saints defense loomed large and Brett Favre was also introduced to the Mardi Grass on the Superdome floor, repeatedly. Almost leaving the game at one point. In the end our dream trip to the Super Bowl came on the foot of a 23-year-old rookie, Garret Hartley, who dreamed of kicking the winning field goal a few nights before. As Jim Henderson proclaimed in his runaway radio voice over the cheering crowd's clamor, "Pigs have flown, Hell has frozen over, and the Saints are going to the Super Bowl!"

Only one impossible feat remained ahead for the Saints: A win over the also nearly unbeaten Colts. Could the Saints win without sacking the least sacked QB in the NFL? Could the Saints spot the Colts a 10-0 lead in the First Quarter and come back to win? They did against Miami, a 21-0 lead in First Quarter, on the same field earlier in the season, but this was the invincible Colts! Well, by the end of the half, the Colts were only leading 10-6, and they were about to be bushwhacked! That's an old cowboy phrase which mean to jump some unexpectedly from an ambush.

Sean Payton, our coach, called the play "Ambush" and when the Saints had to kick to the unstoppable Colts QB to start the second half, I remember it all so well, I saw our kicker send the ball in the air and the two front line Colts turn their backs to run towards where the ball was going, just as I did. Only the ball did not go past where they were, but it was an onside kick which was executed perfectly and the Saints recovered and went on to score a TD, taking the lead and the momentum away from the Colts, a lead they maintained at the end of the game to win their very first Super Bowl, the very first one they ever competed in. In an ironic twist, the key play, an interception by the Saints of the Colts's QB, took this form: a graduate of a New Orleans high school was passing the football (to possibly tie the game) to a graduate of a Marrero high school only to have it intercepted by a graduate of a Port Allen high school — all three Louisiana footballers.


Here's how we spent Super Bowl Sunday. For an entire week, it had taken me an hour and a half to read the articles about the Saints in our local newspaper. Super Bowl morning reading the Times-Picayune again was a marathon event. All day coverage on the local TV stations. We walked over to the Super Bowl Party at Faye and Otto's place by 4:30 pm with Del's crab dip. "All of India will be there," Faye had warned me, and she was right. A house full of people — it looked like a Bollywood cast party. As I came in the door and saw all the Indians, I leaned over to Faye and asked, "Do I need a passport to be here?" She laughed.

I had a problem with the name of one of Otto's fellow doctors. "Tajea — rhymes with con-tagious," he said, "but I don't tell my patients that." He said after the game he was going to call his staff and tell them they could come in ten minutes late the next morning. I said, "Why not 14 minutes, the point-spread of the win?" He nodded as if he took me seriously. Lots of exotic sounding names I met, both male and female. Once I sat down on a sofa next to this one guy, who said his name was Bernard. All I could think of at first was, "A normal sounding name." Then something occurred to me and I shared it with him, "Ah, you're a Saint Bernard! Drinking your own grog, too!" He laughed. Great people. Faye and Otto Remedias are great hosts and have great friends. Sorry we had to leave to come home to watch the game on our own TV. Bernard asked me why we went home to watch it and I said, "It's a meditation for us and group meditations don't work too well."

I had left our TVs blaring while we went to Faye's house so it would be all set when we got back home at 5:15. Del and I watched the game and it was an excruciatingly slow start for the Saints, they were down 10-0 in the first quarter. Little did we know that the Colts would only score 7 for the rest of the game and we would score 31! Final score: 31-17. Very much like the three games against the NY Giants, NE Patriots, and AZ Cardinals! Just as I predicted and hoped for. I said, "Thank God for blessing your long-suffering Saints." They have been holding out their hands like your Saint Kevin, waiting for a blessing for 44 years. And now it's finally come. "When did the turning point in the game come?" a talk show host asked on local radio the next morning. I thought that my response would be, "When Mickey Loomis hired Sean Payton as the coach." Without that hire, the Saints had no chance of Super Bowl win at all. We knew that the Indian gang would be headed for downtown, but Del didn't want to go, so we hurried back to the party before they left, me still drinking my Dixie Beer, and I found that Otto was drinking a Dixie Beer inside an insulating sleeve.

We high-fived, drank some champagne. I stood on a chair and gave this toast, "May this drink we dream we swallow, make us dream of all to follow: ANOTHER SUPER BOWL!" This producing a great round of whoops an hollers. Then we came home again for the night to watch our five TV's. I wished the lady who looked at our screening room and said, "Why do you need five TV's?" were there to see how we use them: four different local channels and the NFL HD channel filled with replays, discussions, live shows of Miami and Bourbon Street, and interviews of Saints' players and coaches and we didn't miss a single one for over 3 hours before we hit the sack. Those five TVs were great in the same way after the Vikings game allowing us to catch the spontaneous meeting of Sean Payton and his fishing buddy Jimmy Buffet as the Cox Sports Channel was interviewing Buffet.


Buddy Diliberto, a sportswriter for the New Orleans States when I delivered it in 1955 and later radio and TV sportscaster, had promised to wear a dress and march from the Superdome to the French Quarter if the Saints ever got in the Super Bowl.

His replacement at the WWL microphone, Bobby Hebert, did the honors for Saint Buddy D. who died around Katrina time. In New Orleans fashion, it was just one man in a dress, but a whole coterie of men, Buddy's Broads, in various stages of dress and undress, paraded among a huge crowd which arrived to join them or watch them. One suspected that none of them could put on a dress while sober, and Bobby Hebert, the rifle-armed Quarterback in his day, led the way — the Cajun Cannon had become the Cajun Queen for a Day. It was the first of many parades to honor our Saints. There was the parade of Saints rolling down Bainbridge Ave from the commercial aviation field at Moisant Field. I was there and ready to watch them arrive at 1:25 pm from Miami, but I had to leave before they finally touched down several hours later and missed the parade.

Later, on the next day, Tuesday after the Super Bowl, a date to live in infamy, Dat Tuesday, also known as Lombardi Gras, the Saints paraded from the Superdome to the Convention Center to a crowd of over 800,000 spectators! For a city of under 400,000 population, that was truly amazing. Del and I planned to go, but the freeway into the city was at a standstill, so we went to our friends Gus and Annie's house where she had saved us the last parking space in Algiers Point. We relaxed for an hour and then walked up the ferry landing where we were astounded by lines, people five wide, of over a mile long leading up the ferry landing from the upriver and downriver side. Three hour ferry line. We waited in line two and a half hours in frigid 37 degF, 20 mph wind, to get into the terminal building, and by the time we were halfway sure of getting on the next ferry, we called it quits and went back to join Gus in front of the warm TV to watch the parade.

Was I sad about missing both parades? Not at all. I was surrounded by happy Saints fans in both places and that is always a good and fun place to be. Besides Mardi Gras's own Fat Tuesday celebration was coming up the very next Tuesday and parades galore would celebrate the Saints team and its victory all over the metropolitan region.

Hotels began filling up with Saints fans coming to the city just to be here during the Super Bowl and some more coming to be here after the game to join in the celebration. It was the best Mardi Gras ever! The world got to see New Orleans as its most fun best. We are back and better than ever! On the weekend of the Super Bowl, we elected a new mayor who won in a landslide of over 60 percent on a platform of bringing all the people of the city together to build a better city. On that same weekend, the first Saint ever was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, Ricky Jackson. It was a magical syzygy of synchronicity!


Carnival overlapped with the Super Bowl and lasted until Feb. 17, Ash Wednesday, after which we go into a self-imposed fasting and abstinence mode for 40 days (not including Sundays) until Easter. But even during the fun-filled days of Carnival season, life must go on. On February 1, our contractor finally found warm enough days to pour our horseshoe driveway which now graces our West Portico lawn.

It provides much needed parking when we have deliveries and guests and it saves me time by reducing the amount of St. Augustine grass I will have to cut weekly during the warm months of April through September. Right after Mardi Gras Del had a garden club meeting here, first time in our new home, and first time with the curved driveway for added off street parking. I have a good view of the West Portico as I work at my PC workstation, and I was able to help the ladies who parked in the driveway and had things to be carried in. My 2000 Maxima looks brand new now as it is sporting a new fender and front bumper, thanks to some careless hit-and-run driver who backed into the passenger front of the Maxima and drove off without a note. Probably happened at my club's annual meeting one night in January. I was happy to pay the $100 deductible to get it fixed, especially when I saw that all the black marks on the front bumper accumulated over ten years were completely gone. One of the Bevolo lamps at our new home had a broken corner in its front door panel. I called Bevolo and got an estimate to replace the door. I took the bad door to the local Bevolo outlet off Lapalco Blvd and it was ready the next day.
For some strange reason, the hinges on the new door didn't match exactly the holes drilled for the old door. Apparently he forgot to line up the holes before removing the bad hinges. I was able to get it to fit, not perfectly, but for all practical purposes by drilling two new holes and putting one of the old bolts in the extra hole left showing. The other repair effort underway during this time is the replacement of the broken shutters covering the garage and our bathroom windows. They will be replaced with bifold shutters which can be kept open at all times except when there's a wind event coming. Pierre is doing the work for us and I needed to buy some 5' piano hinges for the four bifold doors. My friend Chris Ullo at his Ace Hardware came up with some 6' hinges, but only had three. By the time Pierre was ready for the hinges, another batch of 6' hinges had come in. January is not a good time for painting for Pierre or laying concrete for Juan, so the work overlapped into this month.

One day I came home from a luncheon at my club and discovered that Mardi Gras parades had started and I was blocked from getting home. I visited my friends Mal and Gus in Algiers Point. Found out from Mal's daughter that Woodland Avenue was open to get to Belle Chasse, so I could get home that way hours before the parades ended. I drove down Woodland, bypassing the clogged and blocked streets, over Intercoastal Waterway Bridge to Belle Chasse.

Stopped at PJ's there for a single latte. Charlie Sampey, the owner, fixed it for me and the price came out about 55 cents lower than usual. I asked why and he said, "I gave you a discount." I looked on the receipt and it said, "Serviceman Discount". The Naval Air Station at Belle Chasse provides a constant stream of customers for Charlie. "You got the retired serviceman discount," he said. "Great!" I replied, "I was in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at LSU for two years, so I guess you could say that I am retired from the ROTC." The 20-something gal behind the counter didn't seem to know what the ROTC is so I sang the ROTC song for her. In case you haven't heard it, here it is.

      Some mothers have sons in the Army,
      Some mothers have sons overseas,
      So hang up your service star, Mother,
      Your son's in the R . . . O . . . T . . . C.

      R . . . O . . . T. . . C
      It sound like bullstuff to me.
      R . . . O . . . T. . . C
      And that's what it turned out to be."

In those two years I learned about military equipment, strategy, tactics, and history and I didn't have to kill anyone. Retired undefeated.

On the Friday before Mardi Gras I went to Galatoire's for my club's carnival luncheon. It was a frigidly cold day again and instead of enjoying the spontaneous parades happening in the French Quarter, I waited for Del to come pick me up at PJ's Coffeeshop on Canal St. That night I wore my winter silks under my white tie tuxedo for our ball, but it wasn't enough insulation for the open air streetcar barn where we partied while waiting to board the streetcar. Should have also worn my overcoat. On a hunch, I walked across to Carrollton Station, wondering why bother? Hilary, one of our fourplex tenants for many years, used to work there, but she had switched to working days last I heard, but wonder of wonders! There she was, behind the bar! She was looking great and I got a short hug across the bar and talked to her. She and Trevor have moved out of the Hagan apartment but left behind a friend of hers. Last time we saw her, it was at the 2006 Saints's return to the Superdome.

We met her and Trevor as they were just walking up the stadium ramp in the immense crowd before the Saints homecoming and kickoff game against Atlanta. Before the Super Bowl, this was the most exciting Saints game in the history of New Orleans. Green Day and U2 Bono were singing, "Wake Me When September Ends" and the year-long September since Hurricane Katrina was coming to an end! At the Ball, our good friends Gus, Annie, and Joy were there. We got to meet Burke, Joy's friend from Massachusetts, and we all had a great time. We literally danced all night. . .

Our new home with its three guest bedrooms were filled for Mardi Gras weekend, with three of our children coming into town to enjoy the parades. One night we had four adults and five grandchildren sleeping comfortably in our home. The three sub-teen boys stretched out on the long L-shaped sofa downstairs. The first to arrive were Carla and Patrick with their charges, Molly and Garret. Only Carla had done Mardi Gras before, but it had been a long time, so everyone was ready for the two parade days I had set up. On Saturday we accepted our friend Sharon's invitation to her Endymion Parade party. Del went to Terrytown Café for hot donuts and Patrick and I went to PJ's for a latte for me and for Carla.

Patrick had promised a doberge cake for Molly, so we drove to Gambino's and discovered that they had switched to baking only King Cakes until after Mardi Gras season. Then we drove to DiMartino's to buy some shrimp potato salad and the door was locked for another 15 minutes before opening. Patrick walked away, saying, "We got shut out twice this morning." Just at that moment, Peter DiMartino's came to the door and I told him we wanted some shrimp potato salad for a parade party and he said, "Come in and get it."

We visited until it was time to leave for Sharon Roberts' house near the start of the Endymion Parade and drove right into a parking spot near Canal Blvd. I had brought the DiMartino's shrimp potato salad I bought earlier to add to Sharon's spread of food. We said hello to Sharon, introduced our kiddies, then walked to find a spot to park our bodies while waiting for the parade to start. Patrick stayed with the chairs to hold our prime parade watching spot, while Del and I went back to visit with Sharon till about 4 pm when the parade started on time. First time I'd ever seen Endymion at night. Had always just walked around the floats in the marshaling area and then left. Once in 1981, we saw the parade when it came into the Rivergate Convention Center where the Endymion Extravaganza took place later, now it ends its parade in the Superdome. Most memorable event in 1981 was the gal from Houston office of Pannell Kerr Forster who picked up one blue doubloon and, while hundreds more were raining down on our table, she didn't pick up another one. I asked why, and she said with perfect logic, "I already have one." Go back to Houston, my Dear, was my thought. Carla sat on Patrick's shoulders for most of the parade and she was looking eye-to-eye with the float riders. One of them leaned over, pulled her to him, and gave her a big kiss. Carla called it her "Beery Kiss". Another rider kissed her on top of her head.
Molly, Garret, and Carla caught a bunch of beads and a few doubloons. The gals we put our chairs behind were a little testy at first, but warmed up to us before parade was over. The oldest of the bunch, a little old toothless lady, proclaimed, "That's my Alma Mater" when Warren Easton's band rolled by.

On the way back to Sharon before the parade, we saw East Jefferson High School lining up, and there was the principal, Jimmy Kytle, our daughter Maureen's boss. She was in Connecticut visiting a friend and his family during the long weekend, but she did remember us enough to send a movie of her sliding down a snowy hill to Carla's phone while we were watching a parade. We came back to Sharon's after the parade, got to see her grand-baby, a beautiful baby girl. Sharon had made some vegetarian pasta just for me, remembering that we didn't eat meat any more. I thanked her especially for that favor. We came back home exhausted and still found time to watch some of the parade coverage on TV.

The next day we headed for the Thoth Parade on St. Charles with Carla's family plus our daughter Kim and her son Thomas and John with his two sons, Kyle and Collin. . It had been nearly 30 years since we had seen a parade passing through Uptown New Orleans on St. Charles. I think it was 1978 when Del and I walked the length of St. Charles Avenue from Napoleon to Canal Street while the Rex Parade was passing. It was a memorable day, we saw friends along the way watching the parade and stopped to visit with them. We walked about the speed of the parade, stopping to catch beads and Rex Doubloons from time to time. Letting the parade floats get ahead of us when we stopped to visit or to eat. We were part of the parade that day and enjoyed it in a new way. But Uptown parades are difficult to find parking spaces for as all the streets fill up early in the day, so unless you have someone's house to wait out the parade's start, doing the parade can be very difficult, especially with small children. Our friend Keene helped make this parade possible for us by his generous invitation to his home for the Thoth Parade. His home is just a couple of blocks off St. Charles near Jackson and that location is a great spot to watch parades. The Okeanos floats had just rolled by as we approached St. Charles after stowing our gear at Keene's. We settled into our chairs. I got one right on the nearly flat mat of roots of an oak tree. A bit unsteady, but it kept others off of the space. The other chairs were arrayed about two people deep in the middle of the street as it comes off St. Charles. The Mid City Parade started next and we watched all of Mid City floats pass, followed directly by the Thoth floats. Mid City still uses tin foil coverage of floats and Thoth the traditional papier maché.

Parade excitement for our gang started slow, but by the time Thoth came by, Carla was back on Patrick's shoulders, and Molly, Garret, Kyle, Collin, and Thomas, our five grandchildren were screaming and reaching for beads with the rest of the folks. The day was Valentine's Day, and I managed to catch several unique heart shaped necklaces and one large soft Red Heart for my Valentine, Del. We had managed to park just the block before Magazine and were able to get in and out after the parade with no problem. Kim and John wanted to take the all the kids to see Bacchus, and the rest of us went home to take a break. My legs were so tired from standing and walking that the next morning I took my a relaxing hot Jacuzzi in our bathroom. At home we watched the Bacchus floats and other parades while we watched other programs on the TV sets in the Timberlane Screening Room. After watching Drew Brees tossing out footballs, the kids were ready to come home from Bacchus, too far away from the floats to catch anything due to the extremely large crowd to watch the Super Bowl MVP, New Orleans' newest favorite son, reigning as Bacchus.


There were special events downtown on the Monday before Mardi Gras, but we still had a houseful of kids and grandkids who were departing for points west along the I-10 corridor. They left in this order in the morning: Kim and Thomas took off for Alexandria while Patrick and I were getting PJ's coffee and 6 King Cakes for him and Carla to take back to Beaumont. I think those were to be allocated something like this: One for Lamar University (where Carla teaches Geology), One for Patrick's class, One for Garret, One for Molly, One for Carla's home, and One for Jim Hatchett, our other offspring who works in Beaumont.

Later John and his two sons left and I gave them the long good bye as they left from the horseshoe driveway. I re-stuck the posts in the ground to keep big delivery trucks off until the Garden Club meeting here on Friday at which time the posts and the blocking tape come out of the ground. Another frigid week ahead and after that, hopefully, it'll get mild and we can get the St. Augustine grass sodded across the front lawn so I don't have to walk across mud to pick up the morning Times-Picayune newspaper.

After Carla and Pat left with their two kids, I drove to visit Buster, my dad, and he was playing in the Monday weekly card game of Pay Me! I did lousy the first game and made it up in the second when I won the low points. Got to talk to Steve & Janice & Barbara Matherne. Hadn't seen Barbara for months. Daddy didn't have his hearing aid in so I couldn't have a conversation with him. Came home from there and cooked two crawfish leeks tart, one for us on Lundi Gras and one for Mardi Gras Day.

Mardi Gras was another frigid day, so we opted out of our pirate costumes, aiming for warm rather than panache for this day. The sun came out and helped ameliorate the cold temperatures. Got to our Algiers Point friend Joy's house just as folks were sitting down to eat. Gus and Annie were there. Annie Kotch had on a jailbird suit with signs saying "See Ray's Next Stop" referring to C. Ray Nagin, the NO mayor, who is being kicked out of office by Mr. Term Limits, the grim sweeper of the competent and incompetent. Del and I, given the frigid conditions, walked to Café du Monde for some hot café au lait and beignets first and then wended our way back down Bourbon Street to Canal. Ran into Gus as he was heading back to ferry. Gave him a Pete Fountain doubloon to give to Burke Fountain, Joy's friend who shared the same last name as the famous New Orleans clarinetist. As luck would have it we ran into Annie and Burke as we were heading back to ferry from our watching the Rex Parade. We headed straight for the house after arriving at the Ferry Landing on the West Bank. We were exhausted. I spent several hours in the evening getting the photos from the long 4-day weekend, Saturday thru Fat Tuesday, processed, all 157 of them. Finished about half of them before we retired to the Timberlane Screening Room to watch the Rex-Comus meeting on the side TV's while we viewed the movie "Up" on the center one. It was now the end of February 17, only 11 more days in the short month of February, and we were heading to Bellaire to babysit our two grandchildren, Aidan and Evelyn Clark there for the last four days of the month. And I still hadn't finished reading my one book for the month. Plus Del has a Garden Club Luncheon here one day and her Investment Club here on another day, both of which will move me away from my writing desk for several hours.

It's crunch time for me. Only need to finish reading "French Lessons" and write a ten-page review. Then process and add about 100 or more photos into these Digest pages, identifying them as I best I can as I go along. Then proofread the final product, take out any temporary scaffolding, and send out a Digest Reminder Notice to all of our Good Readers. Piece of cake . . . would taste good right now. I need a break. Oh well, may get one in Houston, Texas. There may not be a Houston in Kansas, but there's a lot of Kansas in Houston, and a lot of Oz in New Orleans which is where I will be when I finish this Digest.


This is the first time we have been asked to babysit our grandchildren in this city which is inside the boundaries of the city of Houston. We have driven many times to Baton Rouge and Alexandria to baby sit, but never to Texas before, so we were ready. This is the time of year we usually spend a week in our mountain cabin on Lake Desoto, but we couldn't pass up an opportunity for some extended contact with two of our Texas grandkids.
On the way we stopped in Beaumont to have lunch with Jim Hatchett, our son who is being trained by our beloved Schnauzer, Steiner, on his country estate outside of Beaumont in the town of Kountze. While Jim is at work in Beaumont, Steiner is kept busy by the two Schauzer females which share his bed. So far we have received no complaints from Steiner about his new digs. As we walked with Jim to the Spindletop Restaurant, I noticed a beautiful design on the storm drain covers, showing a blue heron in a swampy area with a frog on a lily pad and a bass jumping out of the water.

When we arrived in Bellaire, we received a hand-drawn map of places to take the kids to and shopping areas by Greg Clark, our son-in-law, and a list of scheduled items appended to enough instructions to fly a 747 Jet prepared by our efficient daughter, Yvette Clark. Somehow we felt prepared for our four-day babysitting gig. Del and I each raised four children without instructions, but that was in a previous millennium. After a few problems with passwords, I was able to hook up my laptop to the Clark Wi-Fi and get a modicum of computer work done each day. Somehow I had left behind the two books I wished to read during the trip, so the message I got was to relax as much as possible when the kids were at school, something the past six months had not provided me: time to simply relax. So I kept my computer work to a minimum, mostly playing with sentences of recent reviews (my phrase for final proofing of my writing).

Instead, I spent time shopping with Del, both for groceries and a new cruise wardrobe. We found Whole Foods first and as usual, the usual things on the shopping list were not available at the Wholy Strange Foods's emporium, so we tried to find a regular grocery store. We bypassed Randall's because it didn't deign to display "Supermarket" on the outside of its store, opting for the obscure phrase, "Randall's Flagship" instead. Since we didn't need a flag or a ship, I wouldn't have gone into the monolithic building (which resembled some ostentatious department store more than a food market) except that there was a Starbucks sign which drew me in, as there are no PJ's Coffeeshops west of Lake Charles, up until now. I parked and then noticed that the sign on the outside brick wall was absent a Starbucks shop, so I went into the nearest open door, and Voila! a hidden supermarket with a dinky kiosk instead of a coffeeshop. I went up ready to order a latte, only to have some buxomy, over-cheery clerk boom out at me, "Can I start you off with a Cherry Chocolate Mocha today?" Well, she started me off thinking, "Did I want to buy any thing in this place?" Yesterday I had a latte at Wholy Strange Foods and it was terrible. So I matched her tone, tempo, and volume and replied, "Can I start off with a request for what I want?", but I quickly decided that I really wanted was to get as far as I could from Randall's Flagship before it sank under the weight of its own exuberance, so I turned and left the store. Some things, like good service, are more important than mediocre coffee.

The first morning working on Yvette's computer, I was asked for information which I haven't had to enter into my own computer for months. So I went to my LT to find it, only to discover that EXCEL on Vista would not operate my macros! Without macro capability I was completely stuck!

This was a new trick and beartrap which MS in its finite wisdom had laid for unsuspecting me! Baffled, I did what I usually do when things don't work, I call up one of my children and chat with them. Carla's voice mail answered and I left this message, "HELP! My back is itching and scratching it is not on Yvette’s schedule!" It had the effect I hoped for. She called back to say she roared when she heard my message. When I told Carla about my problem with EXCEL macros, she said that they were not enabled by default, and she didn’t know how to enable them. With that important hint, I turned Vista EXCEL and did a HELP to get the instructions for enabling the Macros and I was able to run my macros and get my website statistics. Still needed one more call, this time to Napa Valley, to ask Yvette for the correct password for her Wi Fi. Finally, with her desktop and my laptop working together, I could get my daily statistics updated and some final proofing done on several reviews. Nothing is ever simple when you move computers to a new location.

For supper that night, Del made square meatballs and spaghetti for us and the two preteens, Evelyn (11) and Aidan (9). How do you make square meatballs? Well, if you buy prepared meatloaf from Wholy Strange Foods, and slice the meatloaf into squares, it works and saves the trouble of mixing up meatballs in a new kitchen. French toast was tough enough when we couldn't find any powdered sugar, cinnamon, or vanilla, even after scouring through the three drawer pull-out cabinet full of spices. Food preparation and computer work are both difficult in strange locations. While Del was getting the spaghetti ready, I had been told that there was a pre-release version of the new movie, "It's Complicated" and believe me it's complicated trying to find a DVD player and get it working on a strange TV set. The player had five DVD's in it. Found the input select button and had to experiment until a DVD image showed up on the TV, then rotate, PLAY, rotate, PLAY until "It's Complicated" showed up. Streep and Baldwin are a hoot in this "divorced-couple -gets-back-together-almost" romp. Del and I enjoyed it after Evelyn and Aidan had been tucked into bed upstairs.

The next day, we got the kids homework packed in school bags, breakfast, and off to school, and then we had lunch together at La Madeline's Restaurant in Rice Village. There are several of these restaurants in New Orleans and I like its food selection and coffee. You can eat, drink coffee, and read the newspaper and chat for hours without being given the bum's rush by agressive waiters trying to put new customers in your seats. The coffee is always good, and you can refill your cup as often as you like. We enjoyed the quiet ambience of the restaurant for a couple of hours before we walked a few feet down to Chico's where Del tried on cruise clothes, which I learned were light-weight blouses and pants which survive long trips in a suitcase without wrinkling and sparkle like new when worn aboard ship! We left with several armloads of bags and loaded them into our car which was parked right outside.

That night I took Evelyn riding at the Foxfire Stable, south of Bellaire on South Post Road. Looks like the stable in the middle of open fields when it was first started, but now it is surrounded on all sides by suburban homes and businesses. Evelyn rode a small white horse the first evening we went because that horse would rear up on her command, but her leased horse is Pegasus, a full-size white horse, which her friend rode.

The second evening Evelyn rode Pegasus, but her riding was over by the time we picked her up. On Saturday, Evelyn was playing in her first volleyball game at the YMCA with her friends. I drove her and dropped her off at the entrance to the huge new building. As I drove away, I thought, "Lucky I don't have to go find her in that building." When I got back, Del said that Evelyn called to say she had forgotten her knee pads, and I had to drive back with the knee pads and go find Evelyn inside the Y! Hoping for the best, I parked in the only spot within a half-mile not already filled with a pickup truck, SUV, or the random automobile, right in front of the entrance where I had dropped her off a few minutes earlier. I walked in, went up to the counter hoping to give the knee pads to gal behind the counter, but she was busy talking to someone, so I looked around, heard some gym-like noises, and walked through a glass door to find Evelyn jumping up with other girls practicing volleyball moves. She was easy to pick out as all the other gals had the bright white kneepads on.
She ran up to me, thanked me, ran back to join her friends. I had a little talk with her later about taking responsibility for her own gear and not causing others' extra work or trips.

On Saturday we drove to Kountze where our son Jim lives with his family and Carla drove up from Beaumont with her kids, Molly and Garret. Molly and Evelyn played a long game of baseball outside with Kirt, Jim and Gina's son. Garret and Aidan played video games on Jim's computer, under his direction. Molly and Evelyn danced to a Wii program on another computer. Carla, Del, Gina, and I played Blokus together on the kitchen table. It was a fun visit, all too short. We drove back to Bellaire that night and the next day, Sunday, was a more relaxed one, with Grandpa watching the USA Hockey game at the Winter Olympics where they scored a Silver Medal, coming from behind to tie in the last 20 seconds of regulation, only to lose in overtime to some foreign country up north. That night Evelyn went to see the Royal Lippinzaner Stallions Show at the Toyota Center in Houston. Glad to report the accelerator pedals on the Stallions did not stick!

She was home shortly after her parents returned home from their wine-tasting tour of the Napa Valley. The entire visit was a joy for me and Del, not without its challenges, but one that we loved every minute. Our trip home on Monday, March 1, was through driving rain most of the way. March definitely came roaring in like a lion this year, 20 mph winds over night with a wind chill in the 20s degreF. Brrrr! Bring on Spring, Please!


That does it.

Another Super Busy Month comes to a close after only 28 days. Hard to have fun and write about it at the same time. Someone asked me, "How long does it take you to do a Digest?" "One month" is my standard answer. I work on it every day, either reading, photographing, writing, cropping and selecting photos, drawing cartoons, cooking recipes, or publishing it all to the web for your edification. And it's all done by the end of the month. The worst months are the shortest ones (like February) or ones in which we're away from home the last week of the month. These two schedule-crimping events both happened this month! You may not see your Digest till late on March 1 when we get home, but there will be a Digest. Another one-book-review Digest this month due to the heavy Fun Schedule! So long for now, from out our way. Till next month, God Willing and the river don't rise much higher! Enjoy March wherever you are. In New Orleans we have several Spring festivals, St. Patrick's Parade, St. Joseph's altar and parades and a grand run up to Easter weekend. So, make it a great and hopefully warm March for yourself! ! !


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New Things on the Web
  • New Stuff about Website:
  • Five Interesting Short ARJ1 Reviews

    1. C. A. Meier A Testament to the Wilderness — Ten Essays on an Address by C. A. Meier .

    This volume in honor of C. A. Meier's 80th birthday begins with his address, "Wilderness and the Search for the Soul of Modern Man." In his discussion of the restoring of harmony between the macro- and microcosm, Meier tells a story told him by Richard Wilhelm who witnessed the events during his stay in China. A region was devastated by drought and famine so locals sent for the famous rain maker. When he arrived, he asked for a secluded place in the wilderness. After three days it snowed in mid-summer, followed by a drenching rain. Asked why it took so long, he said, "When I came to this district I realized it was frighteningly out of Tao, whereby being here myself, I naturally was also out of Tao. All I could do therefore, was to retire into the wilderness (nature) and meditate, so as to get myself back into Tao." Thus when even one person gets centered inside, the conditions outside can return to normal. We might take this as foolishness in the West, but let a new corporate, political, or military leader take over, and we not surprised when suddenly things begin to turn out right.

    Mokusen Miyuki in The Arts of Mr. Hun Tun says,

    the individuals who Jung says, 'can stand the tension of the opposites in themselves' are those whose egos function in the feminine way, countering the over-developed masculine ego, and allowing the unfathomable operation of the Tao, of yin-yang, to take place.

    This quote reminded me of Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev, who in the 1980's, allowed the unfathomable, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, to take place. Both men were criticized by their peers for doing nothing — but by not interfering with the operation of Tao, they allowed the pendulum to swing in the direction of freedom in Russia, an event as hitherto improbable as snow in summer in Washington, DC.

    M. Vera Bührmann in Chapter 6 says,

    The alien observer 'must first crack the cultural code,' to quote Victor Turner, before he can draw conclusions about their meaningfulness.

    It occurs to me that we are all alien observers of our own history (and therefore culture) due to the evolution of consciousness (See Owen Barfield's works). Cracking the cultural code, in Barfield's view, requires a prodigious effort of the imagination to permit us to view our own history as a native of that time. Thus can anthropologists offer much to the study of own culture while studying other foreign and very alien cultures.

    This book is very thought-provoking and is a must read for every serious proponent of preserving the wilderness — both inner and outer ones.

    2. Jung Young Lee's Patterns of Inner Process — The Rediscovery of Jesus' Teachings in the I Ching and the writings of Preston Harold

    Lee strives to do an integration of Preston Howard, the I-Ching, and the teachings of Jesus Christ and achieves it. The chapter on "Empathy" is worth many times the price of the book and is well worth wading through the mystical numerology: 2/3 times 3/2 =1 (the equation of ONE) and the "young yin" and "young yang" that I don't understand the meaning of, up until now. It is in this chapter that he pulls together in a grand climax an explanation for how the I-Ching and all other fortune telling schemes work, the essence of Christ's teachings as inner process (versus the external trappings of Christianity), the connection of sympathy with conscious process and empathy with unconscious process and more. The use of random selection process as a method of tapping into the unconscious is a masterful way of explaining how shuffling cards or tossing coins can be useful for obtaining unconscious direction.

    Lee perceives the unconscious as a great ocean of possibilities that we may sit on the shore of and dip into. We may then examine what we retrieve from it and read the results as indications from our unconscious as to directions and decisions to be made rationally (from the irrational input). (Note: I have developed a method of divination using avocados.)

    In the Jungian typology, divination by use of coins, cards or entrails represents an irrational input from the sensate domain which may be thought about (the intellect domain) or valued (through the feeling domain). Intuitives perceive directly through the un-rational intuitive domain and thus have no need for the cards, coins, or yarrow sticks. This is my view in this paragraph, not necessarily Lee's.

    Jung Young Lee is an interesting writer and well-named, as his understanding of Jung matches his equally perceptive understanding of Jesus, the I-Ching, and Preston Howard. One of the pluses of this book is the elaboration of a scheme for generating Wilson's magic number 23. The number 23 represents in Lee's view "yin(2)-yang(3)." In the words of the Vulcan 23-Salute: Live long and prosper, Mr. Lee.

    3. Karl H. Pribram's On the Biology of Learning

    This book is a compilation of essays by pioneers in their respective fields: Konrad Lorenz, Wilder Penfield, and Karl Pribram, the ones I am most familiar with. I read the book quickly through after the Introduction and first chapter, so this will not be a comprehensive book review, as much as some thoughts inspired by the first few chapters. A comment by Pribram in his Introduction is worth noting in full:

    In addition, each does something strict behaviorists usually feel constrained not to do (because they think it "unscientific"): each of the contributors continues to reflect on the riddles that gave rise to his research.

    On page 2, Pribram's comments on ethology led me to make the following definition: ethology [the human portion] is the systematic study of the formation of human character. That makes Doyle Henderson's theory of the acquisition of emotional traits a theory of ethology, since his theory describes the formation of the emotional components of human character.

    On page 6 Pribram, in talking about Penfield's work on necessity of attention for learning, says:

    The evidence for it is not at all conclusive, however. Much of the process of operant conditioning may well occur in the absence of awareness on the part of the organism conditioned.

    This confirms what I have believed for some time that learning occurs both consciously and unconsciously, but that which is learned unconsciously takes longer for the learner to understand that the learning is present. So, sleeping in school and college will lead to learning, but not necessarily in time for the final exam. In pointing out that "novelty must be recognized for what it is: that is, information", he leads up to the old saying, "education is what remains after all that was learned has been forgotten." Note that statement brings unconscious learning into a par with conscious learning, so far as education goes.

    About Magoun, who presents a three-stage description of the development of learning, Pribram says, "he calls attention to a newly won research opportunity: study the maturation of neural structure and function concomitant with behavioral development, and you will achieve new insights into learning." It is exactly this study that is necessary for further development of Doyle Henderson's theory of emotions. Doyle has focused to date on the functions of the brain, and now it is timely to begin to study the structures of the neural mechanisms of the brain that provide the functions in the manner that his theory requires or suggests. An example of research work in this area would be to study the switch from amygdala/limbic memory to neocortex memory at the memory transition age.

    Konrad Lorenz makes a cogent point in his essay:

    In describing evolution, we are forever hampered by the fact that our vocabulary was created by a culture not yet aware of phylogeny . All the existing terms . . . fail miserably to do justice to what is the essence of evolution, the coming-into-existence of something entirely new, which simply did not exist before.

    This leads me to note that mutation is the ontogeny of phylogeny, that is, the development up through all the species, taken as one whole, proceeds by mutations that survive from generation to generation, to improve on a species to such an extent that a new species comes into being, and the phylogeny thereby continues its ontogenesis.

    4. Helmut Tributsch's How Life Learned to Live — How Life Learned to Live

    In this information-packed book, Tributsch applies the fundamentals of physics and chemistry to the understanding of how birds fly and fishes swim. He studies and explain how friction on the skin of fishes affects their motion, how the principles of aerodynamics are incorporated in the flight patterns of hummingbirds and albatrosses, how the presence of thin capillaries in trees allows them to suction water to ten times the height that a water column could be pulled by a vacuum. Why geese fly in a Vee formation and nautical birds skim the surface of waves are the result of a natural conservation of energy. How termites build traffic rotaries in their nests. In all this Helmut sees nature as having a greater knowledge of physics than man.

    Yes, he excludes man from nature — our technological achievements aren't natural to him. As though polyester fibers made from naturally occurring petroleum deposits are somewhat less natural than cotton.

    In spite of his anti-man sentiment, the author produces an excellent compendium of physics applied to the understanding of the plant and animal kingdoms. He details them in an almost encyclopedic form that makes the book an excellent reference book. The reference material is very readable, only at times a little too technical. It is the writing that links the reference items together in which the author's limited energy, limited space catastrophic presuppositions leak through. "The world is best when you're alone with nature," he seems to say over and over again — ignoring man as part of nature, as so many pop ecologists do. The best example of his ecologist hogwash is "no earth species have learned to live outside of the atmosphere." If some non-human (sub-human) species had learned to build a cocoon with a life support system for outer space (as some spiders do to live underwater), he would have been delighted to expound on the ingenuity of nature. That man has done it with the space shuttle, Tributsch has completely ignored.

    5. Frederick Turner's Tempest, Flute, and Oz — Essays on the Future

    The centerpiece of this book of essays is the title essay which deals with the similar structures of the Tempest, the Magic Flute, and the Wizard of Oz. "We stand on the verge of a new epoch of culture and history." With this said, Turner begins his probing journey into the essence of the newness of our age, "a brilliant and pliable haze of interpenetrating probability-domains." With such polysyllabic mouthfuls, the author takes us on a trip into the future using Tempest, Flute, and Oz as wings.

    Consider the mountain landscapes before Wordsworth and Schiller: we considered them trash landscapes, home of outcast bandits, to be driven through in closed coaches and only when absolutely necessary. The two poets taught us to regard mountains as beautiful, as scenery to be admired and doted upon. These two authors were, no doubt, the original Sierra Club, because without their impetus we may yet remain unimpressed by vacant steep landscapes.

    In Turner's words, literature is important because:

    We interrogate the world according to a prearranged action-pattern which provides our questions with purpose and relevance. In other words, we need a story, a connected series of projected or fictional actions with a beginning, middle, and end, in order to make sense of the world.

    The story enables us to compare our current situation and, by placing ourselves in the equivalent position of the story, to anticipate what might happen. Turner's analysis of the three stories of the title bring this book to life by illuminating the similarities of structure that pervade many stories.

    "Freedom is an enlargement of the present." By temporarily breaking the interlock of stimulus-response, "a whole universe of intention and creative decision" is possible.

    "Deferral of desire itself creates a new pocket of time . . ." It also creates capital for producing goods for others for a profit. Frederick Turner is that rarest of academics, one who speaks positively and insightfully about capitalism and its abundant hope for our collective and individual future.

  • ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Movies we watched this past month:

    Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, and all of the original dialogue. Often you get the Director's Cut Edition which adds back excellent footage that was cut from the theater releases.
    P. S. Look for HD/DVD format movies which are now available from NetFlix.
    Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise ignore.):
    “Twelve Mile Road” (~2005) Tom Selleck as a farmer and former husband to his city lawyer ex-wife who’s supposed to raising his teenage daughter but is only crazing her instead. Enjoyable bucolic film with enough drama to keep you awake. (A Lifetime Ch. film, not yet on NetFlix)

    “A Place Called Home” (2004) Ann-Margret, aging and going blind widow depends on the kindness of strangers, but will it be enough for her to keep the Captain’s home and boat? (A Lifetime Ch. film, on NetFlix)
    “The Deal” (2007) (See also digest094) What's the Deal with this movie? It’s better the second viewing! E.g., I caught the guy in cowboy hat with a white yarmulke on top this time. Roaring fun from beginning to end. If you missed this one, you have a double treat in store with this funny and insightful movie into how Hollywood movie are made and undone. Bill Macy & Meg Ryan a hot item! A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “As It Is In Heaven” (2005) Into a small Swedish village forgotten son Daniel returns home as a once famous conductor, chooses to lead eclectic choir for uptight church. As the bod’s and the voices get loosened the uptight get tighter. Can Daniel learn to ride a bicycle or learn to love? A poignant and rollicking fun after a slow start. A DON’T MISS HIT! ! !

    “The Shipping News” (2001) Kevin Spacey at his spaciest best plays journalist for remote village in Newfoundland’s only newspaper which reports on a car wreck a day, whether there is one or not. Judith Dench: Ancient Aunt Forebodes Trouble; Storm Brewing, House in Danger; Lumbering Idiot Stands Proud. Julianne Moore: Hot Love Interest. See also digest44.
    “Charlie Bartlett” (2007) Can an indulgent rich mother raise a son? Charlie Bartlett got beat up trying to learn things a father would have taught him to overcome or avoid. Along the way he learned about free enterprise and making friends. A “Ferris Bueller” without a day off.
    “The Boys Are Back” (2009) but the mothers are out of sight, one dead and the other half way around the world. Can Clive Owen an itinerant sports journal raise two sons alone when he doesn’t know beans about fathering, mothering, or disciplining? Actually he can’t.
    “Coco Before Chanel” (2009) Spectacular Blu-Ray cinematography of beach scenes and automobile drives serves as backdrop for this early life of Gabrielle Chanel, her friends, and supporters. Audrey Tatou is perfect as the oft perplexing master of style and design who tore away the feathers, fluff, and corset stays from women’s bodies, clothing, and hats as she founded a business which survives to this day. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    “Star Trek” (2009) 2nd View Worth a second viewing. We enjoyed it more and it made more sense. Bones, Uhuru, Sulu, Chekov easy to spot, but Scotty took a while to locate first time. The Romululan mining ship also under-explained belatedly. Small defects in a great prequel of the original Star Trek series, working in Captain Pike who appeared in a couple of early episodes. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
    Apollo 11: A Night to Remember (2009) It certainly was for me on many levels, being my 29th birthday. We ate from a green cheese ball and by end of night we knew for sure the Moon was no longer made of green cheese! Great BBC footage rarely seen.
    “Two Lovers” (2008) Three lovers including Gweneth Paltrow and Joachim Phoenix, but which two will be together as the credits roll?
    “My One and Only” (2009) Kevin Bacon, as the philandering father of George, wrote the eponymous song, A One-Hit Wonder, toured and loved on the Road, leaving his two sons with his estranged and graciously strange wife. Docu-fiction of George Hamilton’s early life. A DON’T MISS HIT !

    Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.

    “Made in U. S. A” (1966) Hard to follow, completely lacked any interest.
    “Duplicity” (2009) proves both Julia Robert and Clive Owen can spend a movie or a lifetime trying to outsmart themselves. An utter bore! Full of half-meanings and double meanings not worth sorting out.
    “Wendy and Lucy” (2008) don’t deserve each other and one of them hitches a train ride. A movie that’s slow and boring, not a good combination.
    “Cranford: Disc 1" (2007) May be good, but after having two disks arrive bad: one with previews but no content, the other stalled during second episode, we gave up!
    “Waltz with Bashir” (2007) A yellow cartoon of ugly people doing ugly things to each other. We helped them out quickly with A DVD STOMP! !

    Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:

    “New York, I Love You” (2008) Aping a movie about Paris, this series of short sketches is interesting at times.
    “Last Year at Marienbad” (1961) Vintage B&W film which poses the question, did he meet her last year at Marienbad? Over and over again ad nauseam.
    “The Watchmen” (2009) Another comic book comes to life in this very long, action-packed movie about Super Heroes making human mistakes. In this alternate reality, Nixon gets re-elected 5 times and wins the war in Vietnam using a blue dude to blast the baddies in the rice paddies. Let’s obliterate the big cities to bring peace to the world is the message of this misguided script. Hard to take extended hand-to-hand fighting seriously when one of the guys is invincible, but in the spirit of James Kirk, it happens.
    “Lies and Illusions” (2009) Christian Slater and Cuba Gooden chase each other around while the two women in Slater’s life play him like a marionette.

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    Boudreaux left Mulate's one night after too many Dixie beers and got on I-10 heading West. Marie called him on his cell phone.

    "Marie? Dat you? Ah'm already on the way home."

    "Good. Are you on I-10?"

    "Mais, yeah, Ah took de short cut tonight. How come you axe me dat?"

    "Wahl, Ah jest heard on the radio dat there's a car going the wrong way on on I-10. Look out for dat crazy idiot!"

    "Mais, Cher, It's not jest one car," Boudreaux said, "Dere's hundreds o' dem!"

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    5. RECIPE of the MONTH for March, 2010 from Bobby Jeaux’s Kitchen:
    (click links to see photo of ingredients, preparation steps)
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    Grilled Salmon with Avocadoes

    Background on Grilled Salmon with Avocadoes: Grilling fresh salmon on the stove top is a treat and slices of avocado sauteed in the butter adds a delicious flavor which complements the salmon perfectly.

    One strip of fresh Salmon
    One Ripe Avocado
    A bunch of fresh Asparagus
    1 fresh Lemon
    Tarragon and Marjarom spices Preparation

    Trim off the hard stems of the asparagus. Halve, then slice the avocado in strips. Remove the skin from the salmon strip and cut in two serving sizes. Squeeze the lemon juice over both sides of the salmon filets. Sprinkle with sea salt, tarragon and marjarom.

    Cooking Instructions
    Fill a saucepan with water, 1 tsp salt, add asparagus, dribble some Extra Virgin olive oil over the tips. Turn on burner. Bring to boil for about 10 minutes. Place pats of about a TBSP of Butter in the frying pan on medium heat. Use a burner smaller than the frying pan. Place the salmon pieces into pan and saute both sides till about half-done, then add the avocado slices and saute in the extra butter, then move to the outside edge of frying pan and finish sauting the salmon in the middle, turning over as necessary . Time so that the asparagus are ready slightly before the salmon and lower heat under salmon while serving the asparagus. Dish half of asparagus into each plate. Then add the salmon to each plate, followed by half of the sauteed avocado slives.

    Serving Suggestion
    Serve while still hot. This makes two servings.

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    6. POETRY by BOBBY from February 4, 2010:
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    Shadow Trees

    Real Trees in the midst of Vermont winter
          lose their leaves
    And stand undraped
          arms upraised to the sky.

    Real Hills covered with Vermont snowfall
          lose their shapes
    And stand stark white, uncontoured
          against the sky.

    Real trees without their leaves
          leave shadows upon the
    Real hills to reveal
          their contours to the sky.

    Like these trees, these shadow trees,
          You and I
    Shape the contours of our lives
          under winter skies.

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    7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for March:
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    And for my Good Readers, here’s the new reviews and articles for this month. The ARJ2 ones are new additions to the top of A Reader’s Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, and the ART ones to A Reader’s Treasury. NOTE: these Blurbs are condensations of the Full Reviews sans footnotes and many quoted passages.

    1.) ARJ2: French Lessons: adventures with knife, fork, and corkscrew by Peter Mayle

    Open this book and you're in for a fourteen course meal, which if you read it through without stopping, might last as long as a typical Provencal lunch, about 3 hours, and you will consume about five glasses of different wines along the way as you conjure up your "Inner Frenchman" and give thanks "For What We Are About to Receive". You'll discover why Frenchmen were called Frogs by the British during the two World Wars — it was because of their love of eating frogs, something the British turned up their noses on while the French inhaled deeply over the prospect of, as in the chapter, "The Thigh-Tasters of Vittel". Rather than sporting blue noses, the French honor their celebrated chickens in "Aristocrats with Blue Feet". Instead of overdressing for every meal like the Brits, there is a restaurant in the south of France known for "Undressing for Lunch". With cities around the world featuring a marathon run through their streets, Frenchmen converge for "A Connoisseur's Marathon" in various stages of dress and undress annually. Or you might enjoy some bobbing, weaving, and imbibing "Among the Flying Corks in Burgundy". And after stopping for boudin noir, or trying to find some, one might opt for "A Civilized Purge" at a health spa known more for its sumptuous repasts than its Spartan fasts.

    What qualified Peter Mayle to write about French cooking? Certainly not his upbringing as an Englishman. Here's how he puts it.

    [page 3] The early part of my life was spent in the gastronomic wilderness of postwar England, when delicacies of the table were in extremely short supply. I suppose I must have possessed taste buds in my youth, but they were left undisturbed. Food was fuel, and in many cases not very appetizing food. I still have vivid memories of boarding school cuisine, which seemed to have been carefully color-coordinated — gray meat, gray potatoes, gray vegetables, gray flavor. At the time I thought it was perfectly normal.

    On his first business trip to France, he encounters food which finally exercises his atrophied taste buds. Even though they enter a restaurant on the avenues Georges V, English enough sounding, but inside the scents and flavors were definitely all French.

    [page 5] It smelled different: exotic and tantalizing. There was the scent of the sea as we passed the display of oysters on their bed of crushed ice, the rich whiff of butter warming in a pan, and, coming through the air every time the kitchen door swung open, the pervasive — and to my untraveled nose, infinitely foreign — hum of garlic.

    His lunch was not without hazard, however, when the French bread arrived. "At the first mouthful of French bread and French butter, my taste buds, dormant until then, went into spasm." Lucky for him, through the French bread, sea bass, and other culinary delights, he wasn't expected to make conversation with his "elders and betters" and could concentrate on the myriad of delights keeping his palate busy. He was busy discovering "The Inner Frenchman" in himself as the chapter's title proclaims.

    As a Cajun growing up in French South Louisiana, my inner Frenchman did not take long to discover because it was there from the time I was born. I think I came out of the womb in mid-July smelling boiled crabs simmering in a pot outside the window. And who would ever attempt to open and eat boiled crabs with one hand under the table? Bon Dieu! Not me. Nor for eating any other food. I was shocked to discover that one hand on the table was considered correct when eating in proper company. I quickly my lost taste for proper company. But not so Peter Mayle. He grew up immersed in it and learned all the reasons why — most of them not discussed in proper company — aloud, anyway.

    [page 17] As a boy, I was taught to keep my hands under the table when they were not occupied with knife or fork or glass — a curious habit, my host said, and one that encourages mischievous behavior. It is well known that hands at English dinner parties have a tendency to wander under the table, squeezing a thigh, caressing a knee, and generally getting up to no good. In the best French households, the rule is the reverse — idle hands must be kept on the table. Dalliance cannot be allowed to interfere with food. First things first is the rule, and, during dinner at least, fondling is prohibited.

    In this next passage, Mayle describes the ritual of the Sunday lunch, especially the menu time when thoughts are most focused on food and not idle conversation. This compares favorably with an abominable practice I have observed among Americans. Some people when they should be concentrating on the food they are ordering for this meal, instead talk about bad food they have ordered in other restaurants. I keep a notepad to record the names of such people so that I might never slip and invite them to a dinner in my kitchen. I especially like the metaphor which ends this quotation.

    [page 19] In fact, it doesn't matter what you choose. It is those few moments of anticipatory limbo that are special. For five or ten minutes, conversations are muted, gossip and family matters are put aside, and everyone in the restaurant is mentally tasting the dishes on offer. You can almost hear the flutter of taste buds.

    Mayle tells of a French martinet, Fabrigoule, who gives impromptu homilies on bar stools about French and their love of food, saying "the religion of the French is food. And wine, of course."

    [page 23] In this case, I happened to agree with him. You don't have to be particularly observant to notice that restaurants in France consistently attract larger audiences than churches, and I said so.
          At that, Farigoule pounced. "Eh alors?" he said. He cocked his head and nodded encouragingly, the patient professor trying to coax an answer from a terminally dim. student. "How do you explain this? What could be the reason, do you think?"
          "Well," I said, "for one thing, the food's better. . . ."
          "Bof!" He delivered his, most withering look, holding up both hands to ward off any further heresy. "Why do I waste my time with intellectual pygmies?"

    In "For What We Are About to Receive" we attend a truffle ceremony which involves a church, where the two religions of the French are neatly mingled. In the French Quarter of New Orleans, I am always amazed to find queues of tourists waiting to be seated in Café du Monde while we natives simply walk past the line and enter one of the other entrances, find an empty table and sit down. Our version of laissez-faire is to let those who must, queue.

    [page 28, 29] I'd been told to bring a truffle with me, and I checked to make sure that the precious foil-wrapped lump was safe in my pocket. Suddenly, there was the sound of iron grating against iron, followed by the regular hollow clang of the bell, causing alarm and temporary deafness among a flock of pigeons that erupted from the belfry. I felt the pressure of the crowd, like a huge animal, pushing me closer to the steps of the church. Then the doors were opened. With as much decorum as they could manage while jockeying for positions with a good view close to the altar, the members of the congregation nudged and jostled their way inside. The French have never taken to the Anglo-Saxon habit of the orderly queue, which they consider far too inconvenient for everyday use.

    Like Mayle I had trouble making omelettes that were "more than scrambled eggs with pretensions." So I was pleased to find instructions for the perfect omelette.

    [page 37] Lunch continued, as did the omelette lesson: A new pan must be seasoned two or three times with oil to seal the surface. Before putting in the eggs, the pan must be preheated until it is hot enough to make a drop of water bounce. The pan must never be washed after use, just wiped with a paper towel. On these basic points there was general agreement.

    If you want to make a friend in France, the thing to do is confess your ignorance on some subject, preferably food, and you will entertained for hours by your table mate in a café who will soon be assisted by half of the patrons to enlighten you properly.

    [page 46] As I've often said, there is nothing a Frenchman likes more than a self-confessed ignoramus, preferably foreign, who can be instructed in the many marvels and curiosities of France. I think it must be part of the national psyche, a compulsion to educate and thus to civilize those who have suffered the misfortune of being born in a less privileged part of the world. It happens all the time in Provence, where I have received free tuition in subjects as varied as the skinning of red peppers, the extinction of rats, the treatment of ailing plane trees, the training of truffle hounds, and the correct way to administer a suppository (doucement, doucement).

    If the proper way to insert a suppository is slowly, gently, the proper way to eat a frog leg is neither slowly or gently, as Mayle is properly instructed by his neighbor after he simply eats the frog leg and puts it down. "'No, no,' he said, 'Suck the bone.' He lifted one hand to his lips and bunched his fingertips into a bouquet, 'It's good.'" This reminds me of the way my friend Mickey ate the squirrel bones in my dad's sauce piquante. He would simply push one end of the squirrel leg into one side of his mouth and a barren and properly sucked bone would appear on the other side!

    At any festival in France one is plied with alcoholic beverages at all times of the day. Here Mayle warns of the seductive effect of alcohol for breakfast. One will likely miss any chance for being sober the entire day.

    [page 51] Alcohol with breakfast is dangerously pleasant. My first experience of it had been some years before as a guest of the mayor of Bouzy, a village in the Champagne region. There had been two different wines to accompany the food, and politeness obliged me to sample them both. They were cool and invigorating, slipping down easily despite the earliness of the hour, and I was in a happy haze by 9:00 a.m. Lunch — and more wine, naturally — had been served just in time to prevent a return to sobriety, and I ended the day in disgrace after falling asleep at dinner. Since then, I've done my best to stick to coffee in the morning.

    For the chicken with blue feet festival, Mayle ended up in the small town of Bourg in France. By the luck of the draw my mom and dad were from a small town in Louisiana named Bourg. Mayle writes, "We spent what was left of the afternoon exploring Bourg." (Page 69) I think it would only take about five minutes to explore my parents' home town of Bourg.

    Until I read this next passage, I never knew of any famous Frenchmen with my first name, Robert. I can only say I would have preferred to have gotten Normandy instead of England if I were the son of William the Conqueror. Robert Sieur de Normandy has a certain cachet, n'est pas? Mayle is wandering through the countryside of Normandy in search of the annual Livarot cheese fair after his friend Sadler had been named a chevalier de fromage .

    [page 87] This region of France, padded with green fields, rich in cows and apples, steeped in cream and Calvados, was the home of the warriors who invaded England under William the Conqueror. (A man who, despite his aggressive behavior, was evidently a caring and generous father. When he died in 1087, he left Normandy to his eldest son, Robert. To another son, William Rufus, he bequeathed England. Luckily for the boys, there were no inheritance taxes in those days.)

    After reading this next passage, I am considering adding a new Matherne's Rule which says, "Only sit on the best cheeses." Of course, it applies to other things than cheeses, only stain your tablecloth with the best wines, only bump into the most buxomy movie starlets, etc. Which reminds me of the fun we had recalling the episode when my previous wife, in a hurry to get to the Ladies Room in a Las Vegas Casino, ran into Sergio Franco and didn't know it was him until later. "Who was that I bumped into?" she asked me later. "Sergio Franco. I imagine he's asking right now the same question about you," I replied. Enough digression, let's return to the story of the sat-on cheeses:

    [page 104] It is rare for me to return home after one of these celebrations without a few accidental souvenirs decorating my clothes. This time, my wife pointed out that in the heat of the moment I seemed to have sat on, or in, some Livarot. My trousers had suffered. In fact, I doubted they would ever recover.
          Fortunately, madame who presides over the dry cleaner's shop in Apt is a true artist. Wine, sauce, gravy, oil, butter-none of these has ever resisted her attentions. But even she was impressed by the smears of well-entrenched cheese. Too polite to inquire exactly how they had come to be there, she asked instead what kind of cheese it was. When told it was Livarot, she nodded thoughtfully and offered to clean the trousers for nothing. It was a challenge to her professionalism, she said. Moral: Only sit on the very best cheeses.

    Enough of the ridiculous, now a sublime description of the snail. We should note in this time of political correctness that snails are not hermaphrodites but instead are serial bisexuals — they have a feature they can use to turn into whichever sex they wish. This is a feat which allows them, as Woody Allen once pointed out, "to double their chances of a date on Saturday night." Here is Mayle's report on the physiology and culinary aspects of the snail.

    [page 105] An adult snail in prime condition has a top speed of just over four yards per hour. He is a gastropod, making his stately progress through life on a single muscular, self-lubricating foot. He has two sets of horns; the upper set equipped with eyes, the lower with a sense of smell. He (or just as often she) is also a hermaphrodite, having the remarkable and doubtless useful ability to change sex as the occasion demands. The snail is a curious but harmless creature; its great misfortune, in France at least, is to be considered a delicacy.

    The difference between domesticated snails and wild snails? Well the wandering spirit of the latter can cause problems for human consumption if they happened to have eaten the flowers of the nightshade plant, some hemlock herbs, or poisonous mushrooms, which may be deadly. Luckily snails can survive for months without food, apparently their body consists mostly of nutrition for themselves, sort of a camel which is mostly hump. Maurin clues Mayle in on the intricacies of snail preparation, its toilette.

    [page 119] He started with the nutritional news that snails are good for you, low in fat and rich in nitrogen. But — a warning finger was wagged under my nose — precautions need to be taken. Snails can thrive on a diet that would put a man in hospital; they are partial to deadly nightshade, equally deadly mushrooms, and hemlock. Not only that. They can eat huge quantities of this fatal salad — the equivalent of half their body weight in twenty-four hours.

          It wasn't the best moment to hear this, as I was halfway through my first dozen. My laden toothpick stopped in midair, and Maurin grinned. With these, he said, you risk nothing. They are cultivated snails, raised in an enclosed park and unable to wander; or, as he put it, to indulge their humeur vagabonde. Problems only arise with wild snails, who can roam the fields at will, gorging on those deadly pleasures, but even these creatures can be rendered safe and delicious. All one has to do is starve them for fifteen days. At the end of the fast, each snail is carefully examined for ominous signs, then washed three times in tepid water before having its shell brushed in readiness for the oven. This is known as the toilette des escargots.

    Peter Mayle is an intrepid journalist, writer, and male, and to prove it, he will go to any lengths for a chance at a story. He had heard many good reports about Club 55 over the years, "A place of great charm" with simple food and boats at sea to watch as you eat. "It sounded delightful. But it was a long drive from home, and the thought of the summer traffic on the coast — often a solid, throbbing clot from Marseille to Monaco — had always put my wife and me off." All till one hot morning in July when Bruno called and uncovered an unconscious fondness Mayle had for handkerchiefs, which changed everything about the long trip to Club 55. Bruno, the silver-tongued devil knew how to motivate his friend by dangling the Festival of the Chicks in front of him, a circadian feast for the eyes during the sunny days of summer.

    [page 127] Bruno began his phone call on a literary note. "Still pretending to write?" he said. "What is it this time?"
          I told him I was doing research for a book that would include sections on fairs and festivals connected with food and drink, the more unusual the better. Frogs, I said, and truffles. Blood sausage, snails, tripe. That sort of thing.
          "Ah," he said, "festivals. Well, there's a good one down here, as long as you don't mind a little bare flesh. The fete des nanas.
          "You mean. . ."
          "Girls, my friend, girls. Girls of all ages, many of them wearing not much more than a handkerchief. A glorious sight on a sunny day. Better come soon, before the weather turns chilly and they put their clothes back on."
          Somehow, it didn't sound like an event that would have an official place in guidebooks or calendars of cultural highlights, but it did seem worth a visit. I have known Bruno for many years, and his judgment in these matters is impeccable. "Where does it happen?" I asked.
          "Cinquante Cinq, every day, except if it's raining. I don't think the girls like getting their sunglasses wet. You really should come and do a bit of research. Never have so many worn so little. The food's nice, too."

    In the "Connoisseur's Marathon" we learn that running a marathon can actually be more than sweating, grunting, gasping for breath, chugalugging water from a bottle while trying to maintain your pace. Leave to the French to put fun into a marathon. This is one marathon that I, for the same reason as Mayle's wife, would like to see.

    [page 143] I have never associated running with fun, and certainly never with alcohol. The earnest, joggers that one sees shuffling through their paces on city streets or along country lanes show all the signs of joy you would expect to find in torture victims-eyes glassy, mouths gaping, faces clenched, sweat and suffering oozing from every pore. Their minds are undoubtedly more concerned with chipped metatarsals and the horrors of chafed nipples than with the pleasures of a glass of wine. To me, running has always looked like a joyless and painful business, a hobby for masochists.

    Mayle doesn't drink wine, it's more like a concomitant to his corkscrew practice sessions, a skill he required often during the various festivals he attended in the course of writing this book. As he prepares himself for this curiously titled festival, he muses over his experiences with previous festivals, how his hopes rose up as he drove to a fair site only to find a muddy field or village square empty of human souls. With his sporadic luck, how could he lure his wife along on another boondoggle?

    [page 143, 144] While practicing with my corkscrew one evening, I thought about other trips I'd taken to attend events in unfamiliar parts of France, and how often they had been exercises in blind optimism. There is a date and there are a few sketchy program details provided by a volunteer organizer — the mayor's wife, the captain of the fire brigade, the local butcher — but that's all. You have no idea, until you get there, whether you're going to find a festive crowd filling the streets or three men and a morose dog sitting by themselves in the village square.
           This was in a different league altogether. Faxes flew; information arrived. Nothing was too much trouble for the marvelous Madame Holley, who works for the regional tourist board. And then one morning, a fax arrived that made my wife suddenly realize there might be more to running than she had thought. If I had no other plans, said the invitation from Madame Holley, perhaps I'd like to stay at the Chateau Pichon-Longueville.
          I could see a gleam in the wifely eye at the idea of a chateau weekend. "I don't think I've ever told you," she said, "but I've always wanted to watch a marathon."

    Of course, it helps if the Chateau happens to be in the middle of the Bordeaux wine region. Manicured vineyards everywhere with a curious rosebush at the end of each row. Are wine growers rose fanciers also?

    [page 145, 146] Leaving the impeccable gardens, we found ourselves waist-deep in equally impeccable vines. Pichon has about seventy acres of them, with a rosebush at the end of each row acting as a decorative health warning system. Bugs and ailments attack roses before they attack vines, so the vigneron has a chance to see the problem and treat it before any serious damage is done to the grapes. And there they were, little jewels, dense purple clusters of Cabernet Sauvignon, hanging from vines that had been struggling in the dry, sandy soil for thirty or more years. "Vines must suffer" is a phrase you hear frequently in Bordeaux. And I think there must be a local law against weeds. We looked for one as we walked through the rows of vines. We might as well have been looking for the proverbial needle.

    What can you say about a race event where Bordeaux wine instead of water is delivered to the tables in six-packs and the dancers are boogieing to Aretha Franklin belting out RESPECT during the run up to the race day?

    [page 149, 150] The four girl singers are firmly settled in the groove, fedoras abandoned, hair swirling, hips jerking, arms swooping forward with each clap, wailing their doo-wops and uh-huhs and oohs behind the lead singer. Aretha would be proud of them. One of the waitresses is overcome by an attack of rhythm and boogies toward the table, a large tureen of pasta balanced precariously on each hand. The runners are up and dancing, and it's anarchy on the grass-the bump, the jump, the grind, the Medoc foxtrot, the marathon shuffle, the cardiovascular quickstep. The tent seems to be swaying. The tree in the middle is shaking. I never knew that the final preparations for an athletic event could be this much fun.

    The morning after such an event is a nightmare for a writer, one born without a photographic memory, like Mayle who was trying to make sense of his notes from the day before.

    [page 151] Poor, crumpled, wine-stained scraps they were, as usual. I always find it difficult to make intelligible notes when I'm enjoying myself, possibly because my hand is often holding a glass when it should be holding a pen. The result is a series of manic scribbles that have to be translated in the sober light of morning. If only someone would give me a photographic memory for Christmas.

    Here we see Mayle at his best, under difficult circumstances, like a war correspondent the day after a major battle, a day in which staying alive was a higher priority than taking legible notes. He reveals to us the secret of the Connoisseur's Marathon is the costumed dress of the majority of the runners, resembling a horde of Mardi Gras maskers doing a 26 mile second line in New Orleans with free gourmet wine for everyone, delivered in six packs.

    [page 152] When we reached Pauillac, it looked as though the wardrobe department had been hard at work on a Fellini movie. The town was swarming with freaks-men and women with Day-Glo wigs, taffeta tutus, religious robes, convicts' stripes, false body parts, horns, chains, tattoos, purple legs, red noses, blue faces. There were even one or two dressed in shorts and running vests.

    One memorable country scene burnt itself in Mayle's memory and he shared it with us here. It was an impromptu, al fresco, free-style, performance art by its French masters.

    [page 153] Glancing behind me, I was treated to a tranquil and picturesque scene. A line of runners, at least a dozen of them, was strung out along the riverbank, their backs to the road. Undeterred by the passing crowds, they had chosen to ignore the discreet and very adequate toilet facilities provided, preferring instead an open-air performance. Marathon or no marathon, a true Frenchman will always find time for the pleasures of the pipi rustique.

    Mayle's next stop was "Among the Flying Corks in Burgundy" and his note-taking became "stained scraps of paper, covered in a visible degenerating scrawl" as he tried to keep track of some 27 white wines he had tasted that day. His nearby imbiber did much better, getting 59 wines.

    [page 178, 179] We rather lost track of the reds, but I noticed that a neighboring chevalier, showing superhuman professionalism, was continuing to take notes. He reached a grand total of fifty-nine wines before his aim faltered and he started writing on the tablecloth and giggling.

    As Mayle winds down his marathon of fourteen courses through the festivals of France, he divulges as a parting shot, the background to the famous Michelin travel directory in "The Guided Stomach". I had my first set of Michelin Radial tires on an MG TD I bought in 1972, and I wondered back then, "How did a company known for its fancy automobile tires end up making the Michelin Guide?" Now, some 38 years later, I find the answer in a book about eating and drinking — it is a story about how the rubber hits the road.

    [page 208] It was 1900, the year of the first Michelin guide to France . . . It is a pocket-sized volume, this first edition, of just under four hundred tightly set, busy-looking pages, and it was given away to owners of voitures, voiturettes, and even velocipedes by the brothers Michelin. They had created the removable pneumatic tire in 1891, and the guide was their way of encouraging motorists to wear out as much rubber as possible by extending their travels throughout France.

    The Guided Stomach portion of the Michelin Guide was to come later, as there were no food establishments listed in the first editions of the Guide. Getting there alive back then seemed more important than getting there well fed.

    [page 210] Readers of that first guide were invited to write to Michelin with their comments, and they could hardly fail to have been impressed by the fund of technical and geographical information contained in the little book. But how many of them, I wonder, wrote in to ask that burning question so close and dear to any French heart at any time, but even more so after a hard day on the road. What's for dinner?
          Because although hotels were listed, restaurants weren't. The guide was, after all, intended to be a survival manual for motorists driving primitive machinery that frequently broke down. A man whose valves and grommets were giving him trouble could hardly be expected to give much thought or attention to a menu. Heretical though it may sound, in those early years, mechanics were more important than chefs.

    As we wend our way to the end of this guided tour of Mayle's psyche, we follow him and his wife to one of the establishments still alive and cooking since that original 1900 guide. It is a hotel and restaurant in Avignon, Hotel d'Europe.

    [page 222, 223] Looking through the pages of the 2000 edition, you will find 116 establishments that were recommended in the original guide a hundred years ago. One of these monuments happens to be the Hotel d'Europe in Avignon, not far from us, and we thought it would be interesting to see how it was holding up under the weight of all those years.
          In fact, the hotel was doing brisk business long before the Michelin brothers discovered it. Built in the sixteenth century, it was acquired by a widow, Madame Pierron, who opened her doors to travelers in 1799. Bigwigs of every description came to stay: cardinals and archbishops, princes and statesmen, even Napoleon Bonaparte. History doesn't relate whether Josephine came, too, but it seems he had fond memories of the place. When he was fighting in Russia, surrounded by officers complaining about the discomforts of war, he showed little sympathy.
           "Sacrebleu!" he is reported to have said. "We're not at Madame Pierron's hotel."

    In this famous hotel, Mayle toasted all of us, including you, dear Reader, as collectively we constitute Monsieur Tout le Monde.

    [page 224] It had been a lovely evening, and it marked the end of a certain stage in the preparation of this book — the end of that leisurely, enjoyable, and often well-fed process that I like to call research. A toast seemed appropriate.
          We drank to chefs, particularly French chefs. And then we raised our glasses again to that unsung hero of the table, custodian of the nation's stomach, and seeker after gastronomic immortality, wherever he can find it: Monsieur Tout Ie Monde. Let's hope he's with us for another hundred years.

    The "Last Course" is like the famous toast, "The King is dead. Long live the King." The next step is for Monsieur Tout le Monde, Mr. Everyman, the intrepid traveler in each of us, to walk in Mayle's footsteps through the muddy field, don a Day-Glo wig for the marathon, dodge the flying corks of Burgundy, and sleep in the Hotel d'Europe where Robert Brown and Elizabeth Barrett spent their elopement. Today the Book, tomorrow the World!

    To Print out the Review, go to:

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    I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.

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    In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to converse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.

    1. Padre Filius Reads a Billboard in New Orleans this Month:

    Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share us on some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.

    This month the good Padre reads an Advertisement for Trinity Baptist Church.

    2.Comments from Readers:
    • EMAIL from Kevin Dann re Digest102:
      Good morning Bobby,

      WOW! Never have I been given top billing over Rosie's Date Bars and other treasures. I loved seeing our pub crawl photos interspersed with all the other characters from your life, and reliving my visit through your descriptions. And oh! that photo of your fingers caressing Marie Laveau's tombstone is so beautiful.

      Sugar and all things nice to you & Del,

    • EMAIL from Suzanne Potier in Baton Rouge:
      How the Saints Won a Trip to the Super Bowl. "Nobody going to bed tonight. Sleep is so over-rated," Jim Henderson.
    • EMAIL from Carolyn Yost, Colts fan in Indianopolis:
      Dear Bobby,

      I'm so glad you and Del had a chance to see the Cardinal ame and the Vikings game in person. I am thrilled for New Orleans that they have the Super Bowl to look forward to. Katrina still sickens me and it is great that the city has something for all people to enjoy. For that reason, I won't be at all sad if the Saints win . . . New Orleans deserves it.

      We'll be watching from home too. It is my hope that both teams will be proud of their play.

      Wish we could be having the Super Bowl grub that the people down there will enjoy!

      Best wishes for a great game!


    • EMAIL from Kaisu Viikari in Turku, Finland:
      [Bobby NOTE: it is my delight to have an 88-yr-old Finnish-speaking pen pal and friend who speaks better German but still manages to communicate very well in English. She has an M.D. Ph. D. in Ophthamology (since 1955) and still very active in explaining to the world how what is usually called myopia is caused by minus lenses (nearsighted eyeglasses). See my review of her work here: No Myopia by Kaisu Viikari ]

      Lieber Bobby, guten morgen! Nach gut geschlafener Nacht eile ich mich zu den wichtigsten Sachen. (Eng: After a good night's sleep I must hurry to the important things.)

      Erstens, how is it possible that you as an 69-year-old already can have 4th Gen kids!

      But — it is still much what the sub-teens (what a practical word!) can do to prevent their myopia to get worse. If you tell me their glasses´ prescriptions so I suppose that I can advise what to do; the same concerns you daughter.

      And then. If you could have guessed how proud happy I was when going to bed and once mor reading your sentence: "YOUR BOOK COVERS ARE A LESSON IN THEMSELVES." At last O N E man in the world has get my message!

      That you should, in golden letters, add to your review! - in order to wake up the people to grasp the essence.

      I love your laconic and keen sentences!


    • EMAIL from Ed Smith in Lubbock, TX:
      Bobby & Del:

      We didn't think they had a chance, but we were rooting for them, and sure enough, David slew Goliath and the Saints Went Marching IN. Mardi Gras will have to be merely an afterthought this year, compared to this. I think the whole country, regardless of which team there were pulling for, are glad for New Orleans to get this lift.

      We are so glad for you.

    • EMAIL after Super Bowl from my "#2 bench man" Saints Fan in Corpus Christi, Chris Bryant:
      I anxiously await next months digest, expecting a thorough description of your experience.
    • EMAIL from Renee Lattimore in New Orleans area:
      What a night, Oh what a night it was in the WHO DAT Nation!
    • EMAIL from "Shadow Trees" artist, Sabra Field in Vermont:
      Dear Bobby,

      How nice of you to remember me and my print!

      Congratulations and best wishes on the publication of your Digest. I'm taking the liberty of putting you on my e mail announcement list.
      Kind regards,

    • EMAIL from Roger in Cleveland Browns Land:
      Dear Bobby, have you survived the Superbowl! It cant be over already!!!!! Or is it going to be one, big, long, SuperMardigrbowla?

      I discovered the utube video where you personally explain how to do a speed trace. There are a few people that i wasnt able to quite explain that process through to them. Now there will be no problem. Thanks.

      I was glad the Saints won. I knew you and all of your friends were having a blast. Im sure there is going to be a full report with photos. I never really get excited about the Superbore.I am usually so flat on football every year and very much so since the Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Buzzards. Maybe with Mr. Holmgren things will change. Up till now we dont even consider this team to be the Browns. We refer to it as the "Cleveland Brown".We say, "Did you see that brown game?" "Yeah, messy and smelly. Real brown football." Instead of some thing cool like, "Who Dey!" we have "Wah Stinks?"

      Till next time, have fun. r

    • EMAIL from our daughter-in-law, Sue Hatchett:
      My sister Sharon sent me this picture. How cool is this!

      [Her husband Stoney & son Sam shown on TV during Super Bowl. Stoney in dark Saints jersey, his friend Tony in White Saints jersey, and Sam in-between with hands clapped together.]

    3. The Year 2010 Marks a New Decade for Sure!

    Nothing in recent memory has been more silly than the argument over whether the New Millennium began with 2000 or 2001. There are those who never got over Roman Numeral technology — they claim that numbering must start with a 1 not a 0. Didn't they ever hear of the innovation which the Arabs brought to numbering, the number ZERO?

    In computer hardware language, any set of numbers in an array MUST start with a count of ZERO. The offset into the set is stored in a register (another location) and when added to the address of the first location in the set points to the location desired. Clearly, the first number must have an offset of ZERO and never ONE! So, for computer programmers like me, it's a no-brainer that a new decade or millennium must be numbered from ZERO.

    As for those who say the first year was numbered from year ONE, I have to agree, but the year before that was certainly a real year and its number would necessary be ZERO, would not it? So, please spare me your rhetorical and theatrical arguments which claim 2011 is the first year of the new decade, and not 2010. How can we even talk about the 1920s, e. g., if 1920 is not included in the decade of the Roarin' Twenties? See how foolish that would sound?

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