Nice essay (in Spanish) about Tony Soprano & Dr. Melfi: Crimen y castigo
Not about The Principality (even when it sure sounds like it), but small-town politics, big-time deals all the same.
Recommended obscure book: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Since The University sits in the middle of The Principality and doesn’t pay taxes, its public relations department is keen to promote good will among the locals, hence, we are allowed to audit classes at The University. It was my distinct pleasure to audit Prof. Vance’s excellent Middle English class last year.
Life is full of surprises, however, and early in the class I noticed that several of the students, who are paying nearly $40,000/yr on tuition, habitually didn’t read their assignments on time for the class. Being of the prior generation, I truly couldn’t figure out how they were able to show their faces, much less admit that they hadn’t done the reading. I simply don’t have any sense on humor about this. Back in the olden days we weren’t doing that sort of thing (it didn’t even occur to me, fool that I was), especially for $40,000. On the other hand, as The Husband put it, “it’s not their (the student’s) $40,000, it’s their parents”. That aside, the professor was very patient, erudite, and passionate about the topic, and the class was interesting and challenging.
The first challenge, aside from not tearing my hair out when hearing people hadn’t read their homework, was getting used to the language. Middle English is like Yoda reading Shakespeare on steroids, only difficult. I mean, this:
Thenne watz Gryngolet graythe, that gert watz and huge
Then Gringolet was ready, that great horse and huge. You get the idea.
Still, I did well enough to mostly understand what was going on with Sir Orfeo and a dozen other Sirs and Ladies, and by the time we got the The Canterbury Tales it all made sense. All the effort was definitely worth it. The Canterbury Tales was great fun, and take my word for it, the Canterbury pilgrims were up to no good, and loving it. A side benefit of taking a Middle English class is that you can impress your really-well-read friends at cocktail parties.
Of all the books we read my favorite’s Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It has everything an action/adventure story could need, plus romance, told in poetry of great lyricism:
But then the weather on earth battles with winter,
The Cold shrinks downwards, clouds rise higher,
And shed sparkling rain in warming showers,
Falling on smiling plains where flowers unfold.
Both open fields and woodlands put on green dress;
Birds hasten to build, and rapturously sing
For joy of gentle summer that follows next on the slopes.
And flowers bud and blossom
In hedgerows rich with growth,
And many splendid songs
From woodlands echo forth
The Broadview Literary Texts edition is in Middle English with facing translation by James Winny (and it’s beautifully translated), so you don’t have to sweat it. Go read it.
Why I can’t watch The Apprentice:
Three words: Donald Trump’s combover.
Friday’s headlines in the county newspaper ($.75 at your supermarket or newsstand): “Painful year reflected in budget plan for schools”, and “Budget woes may soon push garage rate up”.
The first headline refers to the $62.1 million school budget, 5.6% higher than last year’s budget, which means that the average Principality resident will see their school taxes go up $382 in the Borough, and $288 in the Township, on top of the property tax increases.
The second headline’s about the yet-to-be-finished parking garage. Following the still-unfolding MOASB (Mother Of All Spending Binges), the chairman of the Finance Committee’s quoted as saying, “We are facing a tax impact that is unparalleled in magnitude”. Well, duh. Go $200million in the hole and your creditors will want their payment. Therefore, keep raising those taxes, and look for more revenue. There’s only two misgivings on raising garage fees:
1. Since the garage’s not even finished yet, there’s no way of knowing what the optimal rates would be.
2. Less obvious, however, but maybe as important, is the fact that the building’s on an aquifer (Spring Street was named over the stream that runs through it, not because someone was thinking of the Season). The construction delay was caused because the aquifer had flooded the entire construction site, and the water had to be drained before the building could continue. For how long will a parking building standing in a stream can remain viable for its intended use remains to be ascertained.
But merrily the taxpayer-financed redevelopment projects continue, so another front-page headline assures us that “Panel calls for additional public space in Tulane Street redevelopment project”, which is “part of a partnership between . . . (the) Borough and developer Nassau HKT”. Nassau HKT’s owned by a former Borough Council member.
To all this expense, the newspaper’s editorial states that “Skyrocketing tax rates make case for reform”, as if reform would solve the problem. Taxes, no matter how you “reform” them, will continue to go up as long as the spending continues.
Calling for tax reform instead of cost-containment is just like my bad haircut. I can massage my scalp and condition my hair until I’m blue in the face, but my hair’s not going to grow any faster. It does, however, make me feel like I’m doing something about it.
My condolences to the people of Spain, especially to the injured, and to the relatives of the murdered.
Here’s a link to the Spanish Embassy if you’d like to send a message.
Fashion Advice/Fashion Experience: The Husband’s POV
Men are different. This is how The Husband lists the items:
1. (formerly item #6 on the list, “Take inventory before you shop”) “If there’s any clothes at all in the closet, you don’t need to shop”.
2. (#9 on the list, “Get a great haircut”): “Get a haircut”. It doesn’t matter if it’s a great haircut or not; you don’t have to look at it because, aside from shaving in the morning, you don’t look at yourself in the mirror. (Fausta’s comment: I understand that some men who don’t have as much hair as they used to now worry about their hair, but bald men look nice. And definitely much nicer than bald men with rugs. Be bald, be bold.)
3. (#2 “Watch your fabrics: Stick to machine-washable materials”.) “Wash it, dry it, wear it”.
4. (#3 . “Invest in wear-with-anything pieces”.) “Wear what’s clean, wear what’s-on-top”. A variation on this is, “Wear a uniform”.
5. (#7) “Find a great tailor”. OK for guys who have no choice but to wear suits to work. In the meantime, get your suits at Barney’s.
The following are entirely superfluous to The Husband, since they all refer to shopping, which is to be avoided: 1. “Shop seasonal sales”, 4. “Check out discount stores for basics”, 8. “Look for store labels”, 10. “Stay away from ‘outfits’.” If shopping is unavoidable, try the Army-Navy downtown since The Principality has no Salvation Army shops.
“Bump up your accessories: Spend your money on beautiful shoes and a great bag” means this あなたの付属品をぶつけなさい: 美しい靴および大きい袋にあなたのお金を使いなさい to The Husband, who doesn’t understand Japanese.
Fashion Advice/Fashion Experience:
Just this morning I found
this article, and was comparing their advice with my experience.
1. “Shop seasonal sales.” Oh yes. My experience in this field is such that my middle name is sales.
2. “Watch your fabrics: Stick to machine-washable materials”. Indeed! Here in The Principality dry-cleaning fees are only matched by tax rates. I’ve been purchasing washable clothes since the days when I commuted to New York City from Morristown in the really dirty Erie-Lackawanna. Later on I became a mother, and there’s nothing like an infant to lead you to the washables.
3. “Invest in wear-with-anything pieces”. A must.
4. “Check out discount stores for basics”. Until the arrival of Target to the vicinity of The Principality (The Principality would never allow anything so down-market as Target — unless pronounced tar-JEH — so Target’s in another town, but with Principality address), I’d prefer to get things on sale at The Gap, since The Gap garments are well made and durable. Now I still prefer The Gap but might get a thing or two from Target if I’m there already. My experience with discount stores is that the stuff doesn’t survive more than a month or two of serious laundering (see item#2 above).
5. “Bump up your accessories: Spend your money on beautiful shoes and a great bag.” I hear ya! I bumped up my accessories so well it was time to buy some Coach stock, which I did. Luckily the stock has done well.
6. “Take inventory before you shop”. Definitely.
7. “Find a great tailor”. This one is a no-no for me. I’m 5’9″+ and my experience has been that if the garment doesn’t quite fit, no tailor on Earth will be able to get it right. Pants that are too short are probably not going to fit well around the hip or waist, shirts with sleeves that are too short usually are too narrow around the shoulders while being too wide around the waist, and a dress that’s too short-waisted is never going to look good. Then you have to bear in mind, that, if the tailor exists that can get the clothes altered correctly (and if you can find him/her) , that same tailor’s going to charge Real Bucks. Not worth it.
8. “Look for store labels” Yes.
9. “Get a great haircut”. I feel your pain. Will have to get hair long enough to recover from current bad haircut, though. (see yesterday’s Blog entry).
10. “Stay away from ‘outfits’.” Separates are It.
Eight out of ten, not bad.