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.





Wednesday, September 7, 2016

BOTB WINNER: LADY DAY ALL THE WAY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time to announce the winner in my September 1 Battle of the Bands.

The song is Summertime. The contenders are Janis Joplin and Billie Holiday.

At first the two were neck and neck. At one point, they were tied. Then Billie pulled ahead to whip Janis's butt.

Billie Holiday  15
Janis Joplin     78

Gosh, Janis's vote resembles the way math nerds write 78, but I assure you, Billie won. Janis had seven votes. I crossed out the seven when I gave her my vote (she suffered from low self-esteem and I wanted to help), so now she has eight to Billie Holiday's fifteen.

Although Billie won, I request that Janis sing us out because I want to write a post one of these days about Billie and a famous song for which she was was known.

Thanks for listening and voting. I'll have another battle on September 15.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug





The guy in the short-sleeved white dress shirt with the skinny black tie is a younger version of our fearless leader, Mr. McCarthy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Q&A WITH LINDA KAY, A NEW RELEASE FROM ROBYN, AND LAST DAY TO VOTE IN BOTB

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's hard to get back to work after a fun Labor Day that included lots of good lovin' from Willy Dunne Wooters.

Yeah, we have a crazy, stupid kind of love.
In place of TIP TUESDAY, I shall answer a question from Linda Kay of Senior Adventures. If you have a different answer, then please speak up.

Linda Kay, writing away, asks, If one is writing in first person (indicated by the chapter heading), and another individual speaks up, how do you address the punctuation, and how do you get back into the original speaker?

I requested more information. Linda Kay responds: In the chapter, the woman is telling her granddaughters a story, then one of them makes a comment (expressed in quotes). Then the woman continues on with her story in the next paragraph. What would be the transition back to the first person storyteller?

My answer: First, the fact that it's a new paragraph indicates that someone else, in this case, the first speaker, is talking again. Another possibility would be to start the paragraph with something such as "Ramona continued," but use a different font.

How would you answer Linda? But so you know, the character is not named Ramona. That was my invention for the sake of an example.

Robyn Alana Engel of Life By Chocolate has also been gettin' busy with words, although not with anything else. Her new book, Celibacy and Suburbia, is out! 

Paperback here. Ebook here. 



I have dubbed Ms. Engel "the harlot of hilarity." Buy, enjoy, review. Pretty please.

Last, but never least, you have until midnight tonight (Tuesday, September 6) to vote in my current Battle of the Bands. The song is Summertime. The contenders are Janis Joplin and Billie Holiday, two women who understood hard livin'. Listen to Janis and Lady Day HERE. Please vote in your comment for your preferred version.

Tomorrow I'll announce the winner.

If I get out of bed.

Mr. Wooters wears me out.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Monday, September 5, 2016

MUSIC THAT SPEAKS TO ME QUESTION OF THE MONTH

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's the first Monday of the month so it's time for the Question of the Month bloghop,  hosted by Michael D'Agostino of A Life Examined.



Michael said his question for September was suggested by Alex J. Cavanaugh, who wants to know,

What kind of music best speaks to you?

I'm struggling to answer the question, so I asked my son what kind of music best speaks to me.

Folk music, he answered.

You are out of your fucking mind, I said.

So I guess we've ruled out folk music.

Let's start with pop/rock 'n roll. It speaks to me because I grew up with it. Some members of Kansas are graduates of the high school I attended (not when I was there; they're about a million years older than I am). Pieces of their music speaks to my Christianity. I glommed onto Alanis Morissette when she came along because she speaks to the oppression I've experienced as a woman, and especially, as a wife. Then came Green Day. Don't wanna be an American Idiot.

I guess my music expresses my personal beliefs and often brings me comfort.

If you'd like to listen to some examples of music that speaks to me, here's your chance:









I hope you'll visit other participants in the Question of the Month. Links to their blogs are listed below. Please consider joining us.

You're the host with the most, Michael.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

Friday, September 2, 2016

HERMINE IS HERE

Hey, Gang,

I'm behind on Battle of the Bands voting. I'll get around to everyone as soon as I can.

Internet comes and goes, but we're fine.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

IN WHICH PENELOPE LEARNS TO BARK

Hello. It is I, Penelope.

Mom Mom and Human Brother say Hurricane might visit. Hurricane's name is Hermine. Mom Mom and Human Brother purchased treats for Hermine to eat. Perhaps I shall receive a treat?

Soon it will be a year since I got in Mom Mom's car and came to live with her and Nice Brother Franklin.



I smile more. I also learned to make noises. Mom Mom inquired of me, When will you start to bark, Penelope?

I thought, Bark? It is on trees. I am not a tree. I am a lady dog.

Then a few weeks ago, our daddy, Willy Dunne Wooters, came in the front door without announcing his presence. I was startled. A noise came out of my throat. Mom Mom said it sounded like a cough, but she thought I attempted a Bark.

I thought more about Bark and decided it is the noise my Nice Brother Franklin makes when he chats with Daisy the dog next door or when Jehovah's Witnesses ring the doorbell. I tried to make the same noise. It would not come out of me.

Human Brother came to our house when I did not expect him. (I do not understand all these uninvited guests: Daddy Wooters, Human Brother, Hermine. House is Mine with Mom Mom and Nice Brother Franklin.) Suddenly Bark came out of me and it grew and grew and before I knew it, Mom Mom said, Why, Penelope! You can Bark and Growl. You will scare away bad people if they come to our house.

I do not know how I make Bark and Growl but somehow I have learned to make Bark and Growl and Mom Mom is pleased. Human Brother does not understand. He thinks I do not like him. I love Human Brother. He helped rescue me when I came to live here and I did not know how to go inside House.

He startles me. Startle makes the Bark and Growl grow in me. 

Perhaps I have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. Psychiatrist should be consulted.

Now I choose to nap until Hermine goes gone.



Okay. That is all, but I will show to you a nice photograph sent by Mrs. Ducky, a very nice lady.

These animals are called Cats. Last week Nice Brother Franklin and I met a Cat. We might have sniffed its bottom out of curiosity, which is supposed to kill Cat. We did not want to kill Cat, but Cat thought we did. Cat ran up to hide in the branches of the big tree in the backyard. I never saw Cat again. I guess Cat remains in tree.

Farewell, Cat. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: JANIS V. LADY DAY

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

It's time for the September 1, 2016, Battle of the Bands.

Our host, Mr. Stephen T. McCarthy, provides us with this information about the bloghop:

The whole thing is really quite simple: You select two different versions of the same song (versions  you feel might give each other some competition in the voting) and you post them on the 1st and the 15th of each month. On the 7th and 21st of each month, you add your own personal vote to the mix, total up all the votes and announce the winner on your blog.

Beyond that, just try to have fun with it and let your readers/voters have fun with it.





All righty, then. Let's have fun!

I noticed that some of you in Blogland have mentioned the arrival of autumn. Your children returned to school. You feel a change in the air. 

Not I. At the earliest, the leaves on the tree in my front yard will change color and fall during December. 

Yet I acknowledge that--techinically--autumn will arrive later this month. September 22 to be exact, which is also the birthday of my dear blog baby Rachel at When A Lion Sleeps, Let It Sleep. Rachel hasn't blogged much lately, but we shall not chastise her. She is a busy girl.

Since summer is singing its swan song, my selection for the Battle of the Bands is Summertime.


George Gershwin composed the aria for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess. DuBose Heyward wrote the lyrics. According to Wikipedia, "The song is recognized as one of the most covered songs in the history of recorded music, with more than 33,000 covers by groups and solo performers."

How to choose versions for my battle?

I begin with my favorite by Janis Joplin:





For the second contender, how can I choose anyone other than Lady Day?



I've made my selections. Now it's your turn to vote in your comment for the version you prefer. Will it be Janis Joplin or Billie Holiday? If possible, tell us how you made your decision.

I'll return on September 7 to count the votes and announce the winner. I think this can be quite an exciting battle.

Please visit our host with the most, Stephen T. McCarthy, for a complete list of participants in the Battle of the Bands. We'd love to have you join us.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug