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Monthly Archives: October 2019

A road trip to the real Mayberry

Here is a video from today’s road trip into the Blue Ridge Mountains. American readers will be aware of the “Mayberry” angle from the classic American television show with Andy Griffith. Those of you in Europe may not be aware of the cultural complications, which relate to the fact that Andy Griffith the actor was […]

Catherine the Great

Helen Mirren in HBO’s Catherine the Great The sets and costumes and colors are lavish. Helen Mirren is, as always, a remarkable actress. But one episode of Catherine the Great was all I can take. Just as every story with a classical structure needs a villain, so every story needs at least one decent human […]

A fresh take on pimento cheese

Pimento cheese made from fresh roasted green peppers, served with my homemade borscht I was reflecting today on the history of pimento cheese, which, since my earliest childhood, has been a Southern American favorite. It seemed oddly Mediterranean, because nobody around here has ever grown pimiento peppers, nor does anybody can peppers, as far as […]

What authoritarians see

This photo, which I assume is an official White House photo, is historic. We’re going to see it for the rest of our lives, in documentaries about Donald Trump’s impeachment and how we almost lost the American republic to a gang of tawdry, slow-witted, money-grubbing little boys who grew up mean and twisted. Nancy Pelosi’s […]

But is it good writing?

The New Republic’s excellent obituary for Gene Wolfe points out that, as Notre Dame cathedral was burning back in April, word was flying around the Internet that Gene Wolfe had died. Lots of readers saw the strangeness of the coincidence, because, near the end of The Shadow of the Torturer, the narrator Severian sees what […]

Soup season, at last

And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” — Oscar Wilde One of the things I learned in Scotland this summer is that my culture of origin — Southern American — is not really a soup culture, though maybe it would be more accurate to say that the climate of the American South is not […]

A history of tyrants

Tyrants: A History of Power, Injustice, and Terror. Waller R. Newell, Cambridge University Press, 2016. 254 pages. The Crisis of Church and State 1050-1300. Brian Tierney, Prentice-Hall, 1964. 212 pages. One book leads to another. While reading Nigel Tranter’s historical novel Sword of State, set in Scotland in the early 1200’s, one thing that struck […]