Recent items of interest in the media

December 31, 2010 at 3:21 am (Anglophilia, Blogroll, Film and television, Music)

Last June, when I went to New York to see the ballet, I wrote about the striking changes at Lincoln Center. In today’s Washington Post, in a piece entitled Stepping Up, Philip Kennicott addresses the subject in more detail. He also makes a point of how much Washington’s Kennedy Center could use a similar makeover. More than anything, the Kennedy Center needs to be connected to the rest of the city. As things stand now, driving there is a harrowing experience. There’s no subway stop close by, either. It’s a frustrating state of affairs, because the offerings at the Center are top notch, especially with regard to ballet and the symphony. We’ve decided to go in April, so that we can hear Christoph Eschenbach and the National Symphony perform Mahler’s Fourth Symphony. I’m eager to hear this glorious music live, but I’m trying not to think about negotiating that tangle of roads!

This year, Christoph Eschenbach became the music director of the National Symphony:

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One of my favorite blogs in D.G. Myers’s Commonplace Blog. I especially like a post entitled “Hanukkah,” in which Dr. Myers explains what the expression “Happy Holidays” means to him as an Orthodox Jew. Considering its somewhat dyspeptic opening remarks, the piece concludes with an affirmation that really moved me, and that I agree with wholheartedly.

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Rich Cohen’s provocative and fascinating piece of film criticism, “It’s a Wonderful Life”: The most terrifying movie ever,” appeared, somewhat Grinch-like, in the Christmas Eve edition of Salon Magazine. I think he is really on to something here. This movie is frightening in much the same “A Christmas Carol” is frightening. Yes, you get the happy ending, but the dark subtext is still lurking beneath the surface gaiety. Mostly, it is such a relief that things turned out well in the end, as they so easily might not have.

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I’ve been enjoying Margaret’s blog Booksplease  for quite some time now. She’s a terrific reader whose reviews and comments are invariably worth reading. And she takes such lovely pictures of the English countryside, once again covered in snow!

Finally, I’d like to recommend two recent documentary films:

. Ron and We knew we would love the Glen Gould film; what we didn’t expect was how moved we were by the Humphrey biography. Some of the images from the sixties were hard to watch. And we learned a great deal about Hubert Humphrey that we did not know, that was worth knowing. He was not a perfect man, but it seems to me that in many ways, he was a great man. It is worth recalling the words of Walter Mondale’s eulogy:

Above all, Hubert was a man with a good heart. And on this sad day it would be good for us to recall Shakespeare’s words:
A good leg will fall. A straight back will stoop. A black beard will turn white. A curled pate will grow bald. A fair face will wither. A full eye will wax hollow. But a good heart is the sun and the moon. Or rather the sun and not the moon, for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps its course truly.
He taught us all how to hope and how to live, how to win and how to lose, he taught us how to live, and finally, he taught us how to die.

As for Glenn Gould, the film gives us a strange, eccentric individual who was also a supremely gifted musician. There’s some priceless footage of the pianist here, and interviews with those that knew him do much to shed light on this complex and secretive man.

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New blog: A Davis is A Davis Does

August 4, 2010 at 10:20 pm (Blogroll, Family)

As a way of passing time while recovering from a surgical procedure, Ben Davis has started a blog. There are currently two entries on A Davis is A Davis Does, both involving medical matters. Don’t worry – along with being slightly scary, they are actually quite entertaining. (Actually the second entry is rather more than slightly scary. It’s entitled “It pays to read the label” – advice which I, his mother, fervently hope he takes to heart!)

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Other voices, other blogs – conclusion

September 22, 2009 at 12:33 pm (Blogroll, books)

[Click here for Part One of this post.]

Thanks to Bish’s Beat for spotlighting my review of Peter Turnbull’s Turning Point. (More cute grandkids here, too!)

And speaking of Peter Turnbull – which I do, at every opportunity – another link to the above review was provided by Donna at Big Beat from Badsville. I was delighted to discover this blog, which focuses with energy and enthusiasm on Scottish crime fiction.

Shelf Love: I deeply appreciate the sentiments expressed by Teresa concerning a passion for reading. Needless to say – but I’ll say it anyway – I share them wholeheartedly. If you scroll further down the lovely Sunday Salon post, you’ll find “Notes from the Reading Life.”  Under “Books To Remember,” Teresa cites my review of Zeitoun.

Teresa has also linked to Jonathan Veitch’s convocation address at Occidental College. It is well worth reading.

In July, artist Nancy Moksovitz recommended The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser. She also linked to my review of that fascinating chronicle.

Once again- thanks to the bloggers who have recently linked to Books to the Ceiling. As I’ve mentioned before, writing this blog has proved to be much harder and more challenging than I had originally anticipated, so it is very rewarding to receive praise and recognition, especially from those who are themselves gifted and perceptive writers.

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Other voices, other blogs

September 22, 2009 at 2:39 am (Blogroll, books)

In recent weeks, a number of  bloggers have graciously linked to posts on Books to the Ceiling.  I would like to return the compliment.

First, many thanks to Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise. Kerrie nominated my blog for a Splash Award! Kerrie’s blog is a great source for reviews and other interesting news concerning crime fiction, to which, in her own words, she is “seriously addicted.” (Oh dear – some of us know that feeling all too well!)

A critic and literary historian at Texas A&M University, D.G. Myers writes the wonderfully erudite Commonplace Blog. He has done me the honor of placing Books to the Ceiling on his blogroll. In addition, in a post dated July 9, Myers included a link to my review of The Little Stranger. (Shana Tovah to you, too, Professor. One has sung the apple-and-honey song many times…)

I’ve been reading and enjoying Booksplease for quite a while now. Margaret’s reviews and comments are always worth reading, and she writes beautifully. In a post dated July 14, she mentions that she checked Peter Robinson’s A Strange Affair out of her local library as per my recommendation.

I love Nan’s blog, Letters from a Hill Farm! Of course you do, you may well retort – she likes all the same authors you do! Yep – she does – a woman of rare discernment, I’d say. Nan’s blog also features lots of recipes  (often for just the kind of delicacies I can no longer eat, alas) and great photos and video clips. It is a very enjoyable place to hang out.

Earlier this month, Nan posted a review of An April Shroud, the fourth entry in Reginald Hill’s Dalziel & Pascoe series. I like the way she describes herself as being “powerless” over this extraordinary series of crime novels; I feel the same way about them. When I realized that  this is the book in which Ellie and Peter get married, I got online and ordered it immediately. I came to this series with Bones and Silence, the 1990 title that won the Gold Dagger. By then, the series had already been running for twenty years. I wasn’t sure if I could read the older novels with the same degree of enjoyment that I’ve experienced with the later ones, but I read A Ruling Passion (1973) two years ago and loved it. Now – on to An April Shroud. Bless the good folks at Felony & Mayhem for reprinting these titles. At the conclusion of her review of An April Shroud, Nan linked to my recent post on this fine small press.

Justin of Justin’s Ramble describes himself as “the merry nerd of Nottingham,” but he strikes me as a person of wide-ranging interests. I enjoy his bright, discursive prose style, and he has certainly got VERY CUTE GRANDCHILDREN. (I get the biggest kick out of all these besotted grandparents – long may they dote!) Justin has paid me the compliment of including this blog on his list of “Fab sites.”

One other thing about Justin: here’s his picture: justin. Is it just me, or is there a slight resemblance to Ian McEwan…? ian-mcewan

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I have more bloggers to thank, but I’ve run out of juice for now, so – more to come!

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Recent additions to the blogroll

May 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm (Blogroll)

I warmly recommend the following sites:

A Commonplace Blog,

PK the Bookeemonster,

Classical Calling,

Shelf Love,

The Unset Alarm Clock,

Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover.

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Sunday Sampler

January 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm (Art, Blogroll, books, Mystery fiction)

First – the case of the burgeoning blogroll…

Art and Faith features some fantastic Russian paintings, like the one below:

Portrait of P.A. Zubov by Ivan Eggink

Portrait of P.A. Zubov by Ivan Eggink

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Mystery Fanfare is Janet Rudolph’s blog. Janet is the founder of Mystery Readers International. The unset alarm clock (love that name!) is the blog of a book loving retired librarian. And finally, a mutual love of the novels of Reginald Hill led me to “Payal Dhar, Wordsmith” and the delightful  Writeside.net.

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Second – yet another book list, and it’s big,  really big…

Yes, just as all of us fanatical readers were recovering from the onslaught of “Best of 2008″ lists, here comes the Guardian Online with 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read. I appreciate the use of the word “must” rather than “should.” Even so: give me strength, give me time!

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Happy Blogday, Books to the Ceiling!

March 22, 2008 at 10:13 pm (Blogging-the process, Blogroll)

happybirthday_cake_by_littlefantasy.jpgThe first entry posted on Books to the Ceiling is dated March 26, 2007. When I began this undertaking – little suspecting the challenges with which it would present me! – one of the many aspects of the blogging process that I struggled with was the last-in-first-out model. And so, Dear Readers, that first entry is entitled “Best of 2006 – Part Two.” Where, you may reasonably ask, is Part One? Well, it ended up being posted several days later, on April 1, 2007, to be exact.

Those two “Best of” posts show how new I was to the process. There was the above noted difficulty which resulted in Part Two of a post preceding Part One. And there’s an obvious – glaring to me at this point, a year later – absence of visuals. Blogging is a classic example of learning by doing, though. I’ve now reached a level of comfort with the software that allows me to focus on content. There’s more I could learn, I know – but I’ve been too busy writing, uploading, and linking to take the time to delve deeper into WordPress’s many features.

I’d like to celebrate my first year of blogging by spending more time on some of the other terrific blogs I’ve come to know and enjoy. I’ m going to start at the top of my blogroll and work my way down. And it will be my pleasure to point you to posts that I think you’d enjoy reading.

Books to the Ceiling is much more labor intensive than I thought it would be. Writing, which I’ve been doing in erratic spurts since childhood and which my mother did beautifully, is proving to be much harder than I thought it would be. At times, I feel that I am struggling to keep the element of enjoyment foremost. Nevertheless – I persevere! And I really have to thank, first and foremost, my husband Ron, whose unfailing support, both technical and general, has been indispensable. (I’m always teasing him about being “the wind beneath my wings,” at which time he rolls his eyes heavenward!) My friends have also been enthusiastic and generous; this is especially true of Lisa B. from the Central Library. Thanks, Lisa!

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