Friday, September 30, 2016

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: YOKO OGAWA (HOUSEKEEPER + PROFESSOR) = ELEGANCE

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Michael D'Agostino of A Life Examined hosts a bloghop called Flashback Friday––a time of the month when you can republish an old post of yours that maybe didn't get enough attention, or that you're really proud of, or you think is still relevant, etc. (Michael seeks someone to take over hosting duties because he's a busy guy.)



My Flashback Friday post for this month had seventy-one page views and four comments.

I first published this book review on February 1, 2011. It's probably my favorite of the many reviews I've written, and one of my favorite posts ever. I hope you enjoy it.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug



Mathematics is an art form.

Intelligent, sweet LL thrust a book into my hands on Christmas morning, assuring me that it was beautiful. I find that The Housekeeper and the Professor is more than beautiful: Yoko Ogawa uses a graceful plot, cultured characterizations, and luxurious language to develop the theme of the splendor of relationships through the elegance of mathematics.

Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder, our novel begins with the Housekeeper learning that her agency is sending her to care for the Professor, whose short-term memory lasts only 80 minutes because of  head injuries suffered in a car accident. The characters have no names. If they did, they Professor would not remember them anyway. He must write notes to himself and pin them all over his suit in order to know who the housekeeper is and sadly, his notes include, My memory lasts only eighty minutes.

The high school dropout housekeeper and the highly educated professor, who can remember mathematics and the glory of numbers, find common ground when the Professor learns that the Housekeeper has a young son. He insists that the child come to his home with the Housekeeper and then nicknames the boy "Root" because the flat top of his head reminds the Professor of a square root symbol. The Professor has not forgotten his love of children, nor his love of baseball -- shared by Root and learned by the Housekeeper. The relationship between the three develops into a fast friendship as the Professor teaches the housekeeper and Root about amicable numbers and elegant equations.

"What kind of mathematics did you study at the university?" I asked. I had little confidence that I would understand his answer; maybe I brought up the subject of numbers as a way of thanking him for coming out with me.

"It's sometimes called the 'Queen of Mathematics,'" he said, after taking a sip of his coffee. "Noble and beautiful, like a queen, but cruel as a demon. In other words, I studied the whole numbers we all know, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 . . . and the relationships between them."

His choice of the word queen surprised me -- as if he were telling a fairy tale. We could hear the sound of a tennis ball bouncing in the distance. The joggers and bikers and mothers pushing strollers glanced at the Professor as they passed but then quickly looked away.

"You look for the relationships between them?"

"Yes, that's right. I uncovered propositions that existed out there long before we were born. It's like copying truths from God's notebook, though we aren't always sure where to find this notebook or when it will open." As he said the words "out there," he gestured toward the distant point at which he stared when he was doing his "thinking."

"For example, when I was studying at Cambridge I worked on Artin's conjecture about cubic forms with whole-number coefficients. I used the 'circle method' and employed algebraic geometry, whole number theory, and the Diophantine equation. I was looking for a cubic form that didn't conform to the Artin conjecture . . . In the end, I found a proof that worked for a certain type of form under a specific set of conditions."

The Professor picked up a branch and began to scratch something in the dirt. There were numbers, and letters, and some mysterious symbols, all arranged in neat lines. I couldn't understand a word he had said, but there seemed to be great clarity in his reasoning, as if he were pushing through to a profound truth. The nervous old man I'd watched at the barbershop had disappeared, and his manner now was dignified. The withered stick gracefully carved the Professor's thoughts into the dry earth, and before long the lacy pattern of the formula was spread out at our feet.

LL, when you gave me this book of beauty to read, did you know you were putting Favorite Young Woman in my hands? F.Y.W. employs algebraic geometry. F.Y.W. of the long, delicate fingers and the healing touch is the elegance of mathematics embodied.

I am so grateful that you brought The Housekeeper and the Professor to my attention. With this novel in my hands, I hold my own daughter.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

ANOTHER NOTE ON SNUFFATRUMPAGUS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Last night my son and I watched a few minutes of the news, which included a clip of Donald Trump giving a speech at a rally.

As he began his sentence, he snuffled up a gigantic booger, or perhaps something even more disgusting.

He sniffed, I cried.

He sure did, said my son.

Another example of Snuffatrumpagus. Perhaps it's something he does regularly and I never noticed before the debate.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

SNUFFATRUMPAGUS!

Need I say more?





AARR! I FINDS ME NEW HALLOWEEN COSTUME

Listen up, me crew!

I thought I would be back to reg'lar bloggin' by now, but me eye still hurts.

Sometimes I can't see out of it to rights. Or to lefts. AARR!

I gots to wear me eye patch and rest.


Cap'n Willy Dunne Wooters don't seem to mind.


Ahoy, Cap'n. I'll try to be writin' agin soon.


I can't see the whale off the port bow! AARR! At least I gots me Halloween costume.


Janie Piratebug

Thursday, September 22, 2016

MOVIE WEEKEND: THE NICE GUYS

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I have a fun movie for you. It's The Nice Guys (2016, Rated R, Available on DVD).


The Nice Guys stars Russell Crowe––who looks kind of old and frumpy with a beer belly––as the straight man, and that actor who is handsome and sexy because he looks almost exactly like Willy Dunne Wooters, as the funny guy. I can't think of his name.


Oh, yeah. Ryan Gosling. I love Ryan Gosling. He's eye candy, and he's hilarious.

Two private detectives in 1970s Los Angeles team up to investigate the death of a porn star named Misty Mountains. Soon they're on the hunt for a young woman named Amelia, with complications as Holland March's (Ryan Gosling's) young teenage daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) often manages to tag along and add to the gleefully crazy plot.

Holly: You're the guy who beat up my dad.
Holland March: No. Sucker-punched your dad. Big difference.

Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy seems as if he's pretty much walking through the movie as himself but with more of an American accent, so that leaves it to Gosling and Rice to provide the great comedic timing, and they do.

Holly: [At party] Dad, there are whores here n'stuff.
Holland March: Don't say n'stuff. Just say, Dad, there are whores here.

I can't say this movie made me roll on the floor laughing, but I chuckled pretty much non-stop. Thus and so, The Nice Guys earns The Janie Junebug Seal of Cute and Funny Because of Ryan Gosling and The Girl Who Plays His Daughter, And I Hope I See More Of Her In The Future.

Wow! I think that must the longest Seal of Approval that I've ever given.

Holland March: Everybody, just back up! Jesus Christ!
Janet: [stunned] You took the Lord's name in vain.
Holland March: No I didn't, Janet. I actually found it very useful.

Keep in mind that this movie involves porn stars and has lots of naked boobies, so I recommend that you not show it to your children. If you watch with older teens, be prepared to put your hands over their eyes or yours to avoid the embarrassment of looking at naked boobies together.

Holly: Do you by any chance know a girl named Amelia? I think she did a film with Sid Shattuck.
Young Porn Queen: Don't know her, but Sid's gross. He told me this one chick was his sister, right, and then a few days later I walk in on them and they're all doing anal and stuff.
Holly: [sighs] Don't say, "and stuff." Just say, "They're doing anal."

Happy viewing!


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

These lines make me laugh:

Jackson Healy: So, you know the old lady, right? Did you believe her?
Holland March: What about?
Jackson Healy: When she said she saw Misty alive that night, did you believe her?
Holland March: God, no. She's blind as a bat.
Jackson Healy: Uh-huh.
Holland March: She has actual coke bottles for glasses. You paint a mustache on a Volkswagen, she says, "Boy, that Omar Sharif sure runs fast."

This photo makes me drool:



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

WINNIE-THE-POOH HAS A NEW FRIEND AND SO DO I

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I'm sorry I haven't been around lately. I even missed the Battle of the Bands.

I poked myself in the eye. In bed. That's all you need to know.

Yes, it hurts. Quit asking.

Anypooh, I read online today that the deciders of all things regarding my favorite British bear have decisioned that a new Pooh book will be published, not written by Christopher Robin's father because A. A. Milne is dead, as is Christopher Robin.

Winnie-the-Pooh's new friend is a


little guy wearing a tuxedo.

My new friend hangs around my backdoor at night. His name is


Mr. Toad.

Damn! I'm creative.

Sometimes a dog notices him and attempts to sniff his butt. Unable to find a toad's butt, the dog runs to the yard to sniff its own butt. Mr. Toad hops deeper into the darkness.

He's not pretty, but he's mine and I love him.

I'll try to visit and blog more. I promise. It will help when I can see out of my left eye.

I know inquiring minds want to know, but bugger off.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, September 12, 2016

I KNOW I WAS THERE BECAUSE I HAVE THE MOSQUITO BITES TO PROVE IT

No introduction. He didn't need one. He and his band simply walked on the stage.

He slumped at the piano, overweight and far from the kid who created The California Sound.

It didn't matter. Within seconds, everyone in the St. Augustine Amphitheater wished "they all could be California girls."

He turned over vocal duties to the bandmate at his side, from-the-beginning Beach Boy Al Jardine.

A few songs from Al and then he said, This is the first song I ever wrote. I was nineteen years old.

Al's son, Matt Jardine, sang, "Do you love me, do you surfer girl?"

My son shouted in my ear, That guy has a great fuckin' voice. (The fruit doesn't fall very far from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.)

It was true. Matt Jardine carried the vocals for the evening, backing up other singers or picking up in the middle of a line when Brian Wilson, seventy-four years old, reached the falsetto part that he once sang like an angel.

Matt Jardine would have and could have been the star of the show, but he was on the stage with the man who wrote the songs, the man who arranged the songs, the man who produced the recording sessions with a precision that defies my comprehension.

It's the Fiftieth Anniversary Tour of Pet Sounds, the album The Beatles admired so much that they responded with Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Several songs in, Brian said, Now we're going to do Pet Sounds.

And they did. One song after another, with the exception of the pet sounds, but it's not exactly a song. Following God Only Knows (Our Song, meaning Willy Dunne Wooters and me), a standing ovation led Brian to say, Thank you for the applause. Please be seated.

Through the album they went, until he said, This is the last song from Pet Sounds.

I mouthed Caroline No.

Good Vibrations followed the Pet Sounds, but the night wasn't over.

They sang one much-loved song after another, until my throat hurt from begging Rhonda to "help me get her out of my heart."

Brian Wilson didn't sing much, and when he did, often it was more talk singing. He stayed behind the piano that he didn't touch often. Sometimes he swiped his hand across his forehead because it's September in Florida and it's hot and humid. Once he raised his hands as if to conduct the excellent, excellent musicians. He started the audience clapping along to one song.

No, he doesn't do a lot, but he doesn't have to and doesn't need to because he is Brian Wilson presenting the work of a lifetime.

About an hour and forty-five minutes in, he sang Love and Mercy and left the stage the second he reached the beginning of the final note. The others wandered off the stage. As we shuffled out of the amphitheater I could see Al Jardine still talking to people in the audience.

It lasted forever, yet it ended in a flash.


I didn't record these videos, and they're not from the St. Augustine concert. The guy in the back who sings so beautifully is Matt Jardine. His father, Al Jardine, is next to Brian at the piano.