Thank You for Your Patience (a play in one act)

I’ve been trying off and on for a week to download a 30-day trial of Adobe Premiere, a video-editing suite that has been highly recommended. I kept hitting the same snag: it would download but not install. Now, I know it’s good to try to figure these things out on one’s own, but I also know it’s good to ask for help when you need it. So I caught a nice break today while watching help videos on Adobe’s site when a chat window appeared and tech support asked if I needed assistance. This is the text of our conversation. You can’t make this stuff up….

 

Vijendra: Hello. Welcome to Adobe Technical Support.

Vijendra: Hi Jerry.

Vijendra: I have received your query. Please allow me a moment to verify your account and to review the details of your request.

Jerry: Hi. I have downloaded the Premiere trial program, but I don’t know how to start it. Can you help me?

Vijendra: As I understand you have download the product but not able to start the installation. Am I correct?

Jerry: Yes.

Vijendra: Thank you for confirming the issue.

Vijendra: I will be glad to check and help you with that.

Vijendra: May I know if you are trying to install the trail version or the full version of the product?

Jerry: It said it installed but I don’t know how to start it.

Jerry: Trial.

Vijendra: Thank you for the information.

Vijendra: May I know the full name of the product you have installed?

Jerry: Adobe Premiere Prp CS5.5 Family

Jerry: I mean Pro

Vijendra: Thank you.

Vijendra: Please click on Go.

Vijendra: Select Computer.

Vijendra: Select your MAC Hard disc.

Jerry: Where do I find “Go”?

Vijendra: It will be on the top of your MAC screen.

Jerry: okay. please wait a moment….

Vijendra: Sure.

Jerry: okay. i found it. i selected the hard drive.

Vijendra: Great!

Vijendra: Please click on Applications.

Jerry: okay. i clicked applications

Vijendra: Now try to locate Premiere Pro from the list you get.

Jerry: looking for it….

Vijendra: Okay.

Jerry: It’s not in the Applications folder. Should a drag the Pro disc icon from my desktop into the Applications folder?

Jerry: I mean, “Should I…”

Vijendra: No.

Jerry: okay.

Vijendra: Just to confirm was installation completed without any errors?

Jerry: The window told me it was completed.

Jerry: Wait. I see something.

Jerry: In the Application folder I see Adobe Encore CS5.1 and another Adobe icon that says Adobe Media Encoder CS5.5 and another that says Adobe OnLocation CS5.1. Does that help?

Vijendra: Jerry, the same way there should be an icon that says Premiere pro.

Vijendra: Not a problem.

Jerry: I’m sorry. It’s not there.

Vijendra: Please click on Spotlight and type Premiere Pro and press enter.

Jerry: Is Spotlight the search function?

Vijendra: Let me know if you are able to locate the icon.

Vijendra: Yes.

Jerry: i see the icon. two of them. one says Adobe Pre 5.5 (1.69 GB) and the other says Adobe Pre 5.5 (4 items).

Vijendra: Please click on the second icon Adobe Pre 5.5 (4 items) and let me know the status?

Jerry: four folders inside it: deploy, packages, payloads, and a red one that says Install.

Vijendra: Okay.

Vijendra: Now please select the first option Adobe Pre 5.5 (1.69 GB).

Vijendra: May I know the status?

Jerry: open. it contains the same items that are in the folder on my desktop: 7 pdfs in different languages, a folder that says Adobe Encore CS5.5, a folder that says Adobe OnLocation CS5.1, and a purple colored box with Pr on it that also says Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Vijendra: Please click on the purple clour box icon.

Vijendra: *colour.

Vijendra: Let me know the status after you click that.

Jerry: once again, i clicked it open and see this: four folders inside it: deploy, packages, payloads, and a red one that says Install.

Jerry: it’s like i keep going in circles!

Vijendra: Please click on install icon.

Jerry: initializing….

Vijendra: Okay.

Jerry: i accepted agreement. shall i install again as a trial?

Vijendra: Yes, please continue with the installation.

Jerry: okay. i’ll select Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5 Family and Install, okay?

Vijendra: Yes.

Vijendra: Let me know once the time required to install is displayed on the installation screen.

Jerry: currently installing. “about 4 minutes”

Vijendra: Okay.

Vijendra: I see that the installation was not completed last time.

Jerry: i’m sorry about that! i am trying to learn more about computers. sometimes it’s hard….

Vijendra: Not a problem.

Jerry: thank you. 34 percent….

Vijendra: You are most welcome.

Jerry: I am in Kingston, Rhode Island, USA. where are you, Vijendra?

Vijendra: You have reached Adobe Technical Support based in Bangalore, India.

Vijendra: May I know the status of the installation.

Jerry: awesome. I have not visited India. 49 percent.

Vijendra: Okay.

Jerry: 52 percent

Vijendra: Once the installation is completed you can launch the product.

Vijendra: Will you be able to take it from here?

Jerry: 72 percent. can you stay with me till it finishes?

Vijendra: Okay, not a problem.

Jerry: thank you. 79 percent.

Vijendra: You are welcome.

Jerry: the closest i’ve come to India is drinking Darjeeling tea…. 88 percent.

Vijendra: Good to know that.

Jerry: complete. it tells me to “take the next steps…” shall i hit DONE?

Vijendra: Just to confirm do you have an option as Next.

Vijendra: ?

Jerry: no. the window says Thank you, Your installation is complete. I see two icons: Ol and En. I can also View Video Tutorials, and in the bottom right a tab says DONE.

Vijendra: Click on done.

Jerry: i did. and the window disappeared. this is what has happened past times.
Vijendra: Now please locate the products from the Applications folder.

Jerry: okay. stand by….

Vijendra: Sure.

Jerry: it has the same ones i mentioned before. no Premiere folder.

Vijendra: Please allow me a moment while I check this information for you.

Jerry: thank you. this is what i mean about going in circles. i have tried this about 20 times. i must be doing something wrong, but i don’t know what.

Vijendra: Thank you for your patience.

Jerry: Thank you for your patience!

Vijendra: I will provide you the link to download CS 5 Cleaner Tool.

Jerry: okay

Vijendra: Please download it and run it on your computer.

Jerry: will do

Vijendra: http://download.macromedia.com/pub/creativesuite/cleanertool/mac/AdobeCreativeSuiteCleanerTool.dmg

Vijendra: Please click on the above link and download the tool.

Jerry: done.

Vijendra: Just to confirm have you installed the cleaner tool on your computer

Vijendra: ?

Jerry: yes. i see a window that has three items: Adobe Creative Suite CleanerTool, Read Me First, and VersionInfo.

Vijendra: Please click on Adobe Creative Suite CleanerTool.

Jerry: done. shall i click on “Clean All CS5-CS5.5” ?

Vijendra: Yes.

Jerry: running.

Vijendra: Okay.

Jerry: it says “There is no session to delete.” Shall I hit Quit?

Vijendra: Yes.

Jerry: done.

Vijendra: May I  know if you are trying to install the product from the disc?

Jerry: i have no disc. i am trying to download the trial online.

Vijendra: Okay.

Vijendra: Please open the file that you have downloaded.

Jerry: once again, i get this: 7 pdfs in different languages, a folder that says Adobe Encore CS5.5, a folder that says Adobe OnLocation CS5.1, and a purple colored box with Pr on it that also says Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5

Vijendra: Please click on Adobe Premiere Pro CS5.5.

Jerry: again, i get this: four folders inside it: deploy, packages, payloads, and a red one that says Install.

Vijendra: Please click on Install and start the installation again.

Jerry: initializing

Vijendra: As we have run the Cleaner tool this might fix the problem.

Jerry: okay.

Vijendra: Let me know the status please.

Jerry: installing

Vijendra: Okay.

Vijendra: Just to confirm have you selected all the products when you star the installation?

Jerry: yes, i did.

Vijendra: Okay.

Jerry: when it’s done installing, i should find the Premiere icon in my Applications folder, correct?

Vijendra: Yes.

Jerry: when i find the icon there, shall i click on it?

Vijendra: Yes, please go ahead and click on it.

Jerry: okay. you don’t have to wait while it’s installing. you probably have other people to help. thank you very much!

Vijendra: I can setup a call back from our representative to confirm if the installation was successful.

Jerry: thank you!

Vijendra: Shall I go ahead and setup a call back?

Jerry: yes, please

Vijendra: Great!

Vijendra: May I have the contact number?

Jerry: cell phone is xxx-xxx-xxxx

Vijendra: Thank you.

Vijendra: Our representative will call you in 1 hour from now.

Jerry: thank you!

Vijendra: You are most welcome.

Vijendra: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Vijendra: Hello. Welcome to Adobe Technical Support.

Vijendra: Sorry for the typo error.

Vijendra: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Jerry: i’m all set. installation is 86 percent complete.

Vijendra: Okay.

Vijendra: In this case I will wait till the installation is completed.

Jerry: complete.

Vijendra: Okay.

Jerry: checking applications….

Vijendra: Thank you.

Jerry: i don’t see it.

Vijendra: Please allow me a moment while I check this information for you.

Jerry: okay.

Vijendra: Thank you for your patience.

Jerry: i see a folder that says Creative Suite 5.5 Design Premium

Vijendra: Please click on Apple Menu on the top left corner and select About My MAC and provide me the information you see there.

Jerry: OS X

Jerry: version 10.5.8

Jerry: 1.83 GHz Intel Core Duo

Jerry: 2 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

Vijendra: Thank you for the information.

Jerry: maybe my computer is too old….

Vijendra: I see that the computer you have is a 32bit MAC that is the reason you are not able to install the product.

Vijendra: In order to install Premiere Pro you need 64 bit computer.

Jerry: oh. i’m sorry i wasted your time. i feel badly.

Vijendra: Not a problem.

Jerry: okay. thank you. bye.

Vijendra: You are most welcome.

Vijendra: Is there anything else I can help you with?

Jerry: no thank you. bye.

Vijendra: It’s my pleasure chatting with you today. .

Vijendra: Thank you for contacting Adobe. Good Bye.

Jerry: bye.

 

Thank you, Stan Laurel. I couldn’t have said it better.

Now, wait a moment. We can’t end sadly, even with a brilliant silent clown. Let’s delight in the trailer for “The Artist,” the new silent motion picture written and directed by Michel Hazanavicius, featuring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo.

YouTube Preview Image

 

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Last train to Katchor City

The walk to the Kingston Public Library is always wonderful, for what is new and for what is not. You walk the same half-mile loop and see the same trees, the same precarious limbs–you think, hurricane this fall: that one’s coming down–the patch of sand that is the bane of bicyclists, the house with the long walkway where you’ve never seen anyone come and go or a light on at night, yet the house looks lived in and cozy, the historical graveyard that, for God knows why, you’ve never checked out even after sixteen years here, the stupid drivers who never stop on Route 138 to let you or anyone else cross the street, and so on.

The Kingston Public Library, formerly the King's County Courthouse, where the first of two sessions to ratify the Constitution was held, in March, 1790. (The second and determining session was held in May, in Newport.) Observers are fond of concluding that Rhode Island was the last colony to ratify the Constitution due to an admirable and indomitable streak of poltical petulance. Not so. It's just that the roads were so bad no one could get to Kingston and Newport any sooner. They still are. (google image)

So it was, a few days ago, that I looked both ways umpteen times so as not to get flattened, and made it across Kingstown Road. As I stepped up from the roadway to the sidewalk in front of the library,  my eyes grabbed an object that did not belong: a round iron disk, two and one-eighth inches in diameter and seven-eighths inches in depth. Mottled with rust. Heavy, and surprisingly so. Unexpected and attractive. Must take this home, I thought. I was immediately transported–pummeled, is more like it–to the world of Ben Katchor’s comic strips, a  world where objects small and easily disregarded are made to be the linchpins of the universe.

Ben Katchor, artist, urban philospher, and all-around cool guy (Photograph by Barry Munger)

Katchor’s work is essential, in the same way as is the work of, say, Art Spiegelman, John Ford, and Galway Kinnell. Each compels us to look again at the paths we trod, day in, day out, revealing gateways where the mundane and the eternal intersect.

The sound of trapped air escaping. Is it "Geyser brand beef stew with tomatoes," "sentimental spaghetti with hidden meatballs," "premature pears in heavy syrup," or "unconscious picnic ham in its own sweat"? "The end of my spoon is absent," a character muses aloud, dipping a spoon into a hot bowl of pea soup while crossing the street, "but not gone." (from "The Cardboard Valise," New York: Pantheon Books, 2011--used with permission)

I discovered Katchor’s work many years ago during a long spell when I subscribed to The Forward, one of North America’s great newspapers, and saw his weekly strip, “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.” Katchor’s work is the recreation of a lost world even as it is the creation of a world that never existed. It is where our memories of the teeth of escalators mingle with the shadow play of light in revolving doors, where the look and feel and sound of brittle, yellowed cellophane tape on the pages of old scrapbooks collide with the taste of Christmas ribbon candy, where a man in boxer shorts and paper flip-flops reading a travel brochure about Outer Canthus and the Tensint Islands crosses the street to smack into a vendor of used staples.

Katchor's protagonists, including Elijah Salamis--here seen crossing a windswept corner of Kavanah Avenue, on a cold night in Fluxion City, in his skivvies--are eternally bemused yet knowing, open to unexpected discoveries, confident that every detail of the ever-changing universe has purpose and meaning. (from "The Cardboard Valise," New York: Pantheon Books, 2011--used with permission)

Description is useless. Walk, don’t run–no, wait: better yet, amble–to your nearest public library, and request everything that Ben Katchor has published. Seek him out online. Go to amazon.com or abebooks.com and spend your hard-earned money on his deserving art. His work is an endless delight.

Litter and its shadow, made to be more than important: essential. (from "The Cardboard Valise," New York: Pantheon Books, 2011--used with permission)

So. Here is what I found, in assorted, uncaptioned iterations. Okay, one caption.

You have mail.

 

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The delicious Vaccinium corymbosum

Nonnie and I picked blueberries a few days ago, at Schartner Farms’ site in Exeter, on the east side of Route 2, across from the large farm stand. Slim pickings.

The great character actor Slim Pickens, left, with actor and singer Rex Allen. The two were paired for a series of Westerns produced by Republic Pictures, in the 1950s. Pickens was born Louis Burton Lindley Jr. in Kingsburg, California. He quit school at twelve to join the rodeo. (google image)

In past years, the rows of blueberry bushes were draped high with plastic netting to keep the birds away. Not so this year, and the birds were more plentiful than the blueberries. The young attendant advised us to pick near the road and avoid the rows closest to her stand. So we did. And, as always, we found that pickers are guided to the rows that have nearly been picked clean. So we looped back around toward the stand and found a row or two that had some promise. But even those weren’t thickly laden with fruit as in the past. It took awhile, but we picked about seven pounds. So good in the morning on Wheaties with almond milk, and, best of all, Nonnie will make blueberry jam.

Vaccinium corymbosum, a summer emblem, seen newly rinsed in our colander. Nonnie's blueberry jam will tease summer through winter.

Slim Pickens. Unforgettable in the final, terrifying sequence of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Perfect casting. This is an earlier scene. (Note James Earl Jones, in his first movie role, as Lt. Lothar Zogg.)YouTube Preview Image I read online–don’t know if it’s true, but it’s a good story–that Kubrick wanted Pickens for the role of Dick Hallorann in The Shining, but Pickens turned it down, saying that the strain of Kubrick’s endless takes on the set of Dr. Strangelove took too much out of him.

I was never a Rex Allen fan. But I loved Roy Rogers when I was a kid, and grew to like him even more when I learned of his association with the Sons of the Pioneers. This clip is especially fine for a close look at the wonderful violinist Hugh Farr:YouTube Preview Image

Rogers had such a relaxed manner in front of the camera, with a ready, somewhat self-effacing smile. His cowboy hat tilted slightly back from his brow, sometimes revealing a dark Elvis-like curl, moist with perspiration. Well, then: blueberry picking, Roy Rogers, and “nuclear combat toe to toe with the Ruskies.” Go figure.

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“Accept a bardie’s gratfu’ thanks”

We were prepared to discover a new world of subtle taste and aroma–and to learn frothy new adjectives to describe it–but we were utterly unprepared for the controlled explosion that is Richard Paterson. Sleek Falstaff in a kilt, Paterson is the master blender at Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay, but the job title cannot contain him. A self-appointed ambassador of whisky, Paterson is a performance artist who marries marketing savvy with outright bombast, a ringmaster and all three rings combined. In the span of two hours, Paterson spoke nearly nonstop, mostly at a break-neck pace, coming up for air only to plunge his nose deep into a glass or to quaff the delectable distillate, usquebaugh, “the water of life.”

We were handed an Isle of Jura 10-year-old at the door and were met with this at our tables: four more expressions of Jura and six expressions of Dalmore, including the 1992 Mackenzie and the King Alexander III.

Paterson joined Whyte & Mackay in 1970, and was named master blender just five years later, at the age of 26. He had his first taste of Scotch whisky when he was eight. The glass was handed to him by his father, who also made his living by his nose, as did his grandfather. He recalls seeing his father, silhouetted by a rising wall of whisky casks, pour the golden liquor in the glass, swirl the glass with vigor, then thrust his nose deep inside to disentangle the aroma and identify the strands of its enticing web.

“What do you think of it?” his father asked.

“Well, er, it’s very nice, Dad,” the youngster replied.

“Very nice?” his father gasped. “Is it heavy like your grandfather? Is it light like your mother? Is it sweet like chocolate? Is it dry like the dust on the floor?”

If you wonder where Paterson got his patter, it runs in the family.

The event was arranged by Elliott Fishbein, the hospitable muse of Town Wine & Spirits, in Rumford, and was hosted by Agawam Hunt, the private country club, also in Rumford. My brother Rick and I–we grew up in the Rumford section of East Providence–were joined by my wife Nonnie, a South County lass whose taste is drawn to smoke and peat and salt and seaweed. She’s a Lagavulin 16, if you know single-malt whisky. I’m an Edradour 1o. Rick is a newcomer to whisky, and he could not have found a more profitable portal through which to make his first appearance.

About 90 participants, fewer than ten women, age span 35 to 65 or thereabouts. Nice buffet. Attractive room. Paterson delivered a power-point presentation that was light on graphics and heavy on verbiage. He has the penetrating voice of a sideshow barker and the deft pacing of an evangelist, slowly rising to a grand peak that ends in a humorous remark or a glorious profanity, then letting us down gently to gather ourselves for the next crescendo. And there was always a next.

He knows his history, and when he mentioned a date that was crucial in the timeline of single-malt and blended whisky, he mentioned the month, day, and year. And time of day. And sometimes the weather. After a half dozen such references, we knew they were coming, which only added to the delight at the payoff. The day in 1263 when Colin Fitzgerald, first chieftain of the clan Mackenzie, saved the life of King Alexander III by killing the twelve-point stag about to impale him–partly cloudy, Paterson said with the gravity of a witness under oath. Down came the house.

Benjamin West's "Alexander III of Scotland Rescued from the Fury of the Stag by the Intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald." Dimensions: 12 feet x 17 feet. Weather: partly cloudy. (Scottish National Gallery image)

When he mentioned Henry VIII shuttering the realm’s more than 800 monasteries, Paterson spat on the floor. A reference to Queen Elizabeth I was met with another volley of spittle. Holding the glass with hand cupped under the bell and taking a quick whiff, he said, “If you nose the glass like this, you’re an asshole. If I ever see you hold the glass like this, I’ll kill you.” When he demonstrated how a Boston bartender once filled his whisky glass with days’ old ice redolent of fish, he violently threw whisky and ice across the room against the hardwood wall at Agawam Hunt.

So we learned in vivid manner the history of single malts and blended whiskies, what gives whisky its flavor (80 percent comes from the wood that makes the cask), how to bring awareness to the taste of crushed almond and burnt sugar and lemon peel, of marmalade and licorice as the liquor cascades across the taste buds, over and under the tongue, so that, as Paterson said of Jackson Pollock’s paintings, “the inner world will be revealed” when you regard them long enough. A wonderful analogy, I thought. “To extract the flavors, that’s what your mouth is for,” said Paterson–in a stampede of neural messages that tumble into the brain and heart.

"Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist)" by Jackson Pollock, 1950, National Gallery of Art. “Abstract painting is abstract. It confronts you," Pollock said. "There was a reviewer a while back who wrote that my pictures didn't have any beginning or any end. He didn't mean it as a compliment, but it was.” (National Gallery of Art image)

Paterson showed us how to nose the whiskey, slowly, with an open mind and a relaxed deliberation, inhaling the aroma and then pulling away from the glass. To rest. Three times he did this, always slowly. Then he took a mouthful and let it splash on its own inside his mouth, as the alcohol and phenols released their, uh, alcohol and phenols, I guess. He didn’t get into the chemistry of the thing, which I’m sure is fascinating, beyond saying that the marriage of water, air, grain, and wood is a beautiful thing. An acquired taste? Of course. What isn’t? And what area of human endeavor and accomplishment is not richer the more it is savored? So whisky works its wonders, and we’re all the better for it.

Speaking of marriage, here we are with Richard Paterson. "Love makes the world go 'round? Rubbish," he said. "Whisky makes the world go 'round--and twice as fast." (Photograph by Rick O'Brien)

At evening’s end, Nonnie preferred the Dalmore Grand Reserva: “As densely satisfying as heavy bittersweet chocolate.” Rick preferred the Jura 21: “By far my favorite. It wasn’t even close. Head and shoulders above everything else.”  I preferred the Dalmore 18. Here’s how the blessed anonymous marketing copywriter characterizes Dalmore 18 on the company website: “Matured initially in American white oak for 14 years before being transferred to Matusalem Spanish sherry butts for 3 years, these unique whiskies were finally married for a further 12 months in upstanding sherry butts. Nature and nurture have delivered a classic Dalmore. Rich walnut brown in colour with copper highlights. A charming aroma of pine, lemongrass, and cinnamon. A galaxy of chocolate, vanilla, Colombian coffee, truffles, and rosemary tantalise the palate. An enduring aftertaste of violets and jasmine.”

A description worthy of Paterson himself. But we cannot say “guidbye” to great writing without mentioning Charles McGrath’s wonderful story in the New York Times Magazine of July 21. He captures Paterson perfectly as he tells the tale of the master blender’s assignment to recreate the whisky that Ernest Shackleton took with him and his crew on their 1907-1909 expedition to the South Pole aboard the Nimrod. Three cases of the stuff were found in February 2007 by a team restoring Shackleton’s Antarctic hut. Paterson’s nose and palate determined enough information to construct it anew. As McGrath so nicely puts it, “And yet the new whisky is also a very modern and even an artificial artifact, the product of science and technology as much as of antiquarian connoisseurship. It’s like a CD that has been engineered to sound like vinyl.”  It’s a fascinating story, told here. And, of course, McGrath is wise enough to give Paterson the last word, as will I, as the Scotsman relishes a glass of delicious Jura Superstition: “Ah,” he says, his eyes flashing with delight. “Drink it with the wind and rain in your face, and it will come alive.”

 

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Late-breaking news from the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Unsure of the accuracy of the Turkish translation of the sentence “Good enough to serve to company” that I plucked from an English/Turkish translation website and included in my previous post, I copied the words and sent them to the Turkish Embassy in Washington, D.C., earlier today, kindly requesting the correct translation. A staff member promptly and graciously replied. Here is how to say “Good enough to serve to company” in the Turkish language:

“Misafire ikram edilecek kadar iyi!”

The Turkish Embassy, presently located at 2525 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington, D.C. (google image)

Say it with me now: “Misafire ikram edilecek kadar iyi!”

Pop “Turkish Embassy” into google images and a few unexpected entries turn up. Here’s one of them, a photograph of the jazz harpist Adele Girard who played at the Turkish Embassy in Washington with a group of musicians including Johnny Hodges and Barney Bigard. Curious. Digging around a bit, I learned that the second Turkish ambassador to the United States, appointed in 1934, was Mehmet Munir Ertegun, the father of Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, two of the most important producers in American jazz, rock, and rhythm and blues. A jazz fan like his sons, Ertegun hosted many jazz performances at the embassy, notable, among other reasons, for being integrated.

The Washington Post has a nice story about the jazz performances, a tradition that resumed in February of this year, in honor of Black History Month, thanks to the present Turkish Ambassador to the United States, Namik Tan. The William P. Gottlieb Collection at the Library of Congress includes a number of photographs taken at the Turkish Embassy between 1938 and 1948, among them this shot of Girard.

Youtube cooperates, as well, with this perfectly bizarre film of Girard and her trio.YouTube Preview Image

Here’s my favorite photograph of Girard, exhausted at the embassy, with 78’s scattered on the bed and a drink on the floor.

Adele Girard, catching some z's at the Turkish Embassy (Library of Congress image)

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Turkish-style braised eggplant: success

The recipe was published in the New York Times last week, and it’s a keeper. As they might say in Turkey, “Hizmet etmek için yeterince iyi şirket!” (Good enough to serve to company!)

Turkish-style braised eggplant. The lengthening shadows of a summer sunset make everything look and taste better.

The recipe says to use a vegetable peeler to cut off alternating strips of eggplant skin. Don’t bother. I declined to peel and core the tomatoes, too. Stir in the fresh dill just before serving, and garnish at the table with fresh parsley and a dollop of Greek-style plain yogurt. The combination of pine nuts, raisins, cumin, and cinnamon is wonderful. Here it is:

Turkish-Style Braised Eggplant

Time: 1 hour, plus at least 1 hour 15 minutes for draining and cooling

1 large eggplant (about 1 pound)

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons pine nuts

1 large tomato, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped

1/4 cup raisins

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

Black pepper

1/2 cup roughly chopped dill

2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

Thick yogurt, for serving

Lemon wedges, for serving.

 

1. Trim ends off the eggplant. With a vegetable peeler, cut off alternating strips of skin. Cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes, place in a colander over a large bowl and toss with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to 3 hours, rinse well and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible; do not break cubes up.

2. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant cubes and move them around occasionally, until they are rather tender and somewhat browned, about 7 minutes. Remove from the pan with tongs, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan. Set aside.

3. Add remaining oil to the pan with the onions and pine nuts and stir occasionally, until the onions are transparent and some pine nuts are lightly browned, 7 or 8 minutes.

4. Return eggplant to the pan with the tomato, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, cumin and pepper. Mix well, then turn heat to low. Cover the pan and cook until the eggplant is very tender but still in distinct pieces, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring once or twice, until the liquid is somewhat thickened, 5 to 10 minutes.

5. Remove the pan from heat and let sit uncovered until it is at room temperature, about 45 minutes. Stir in the dill and parsley, adjust the seasonings to taste and serve, accompanied by yogurt and lemon wedges for squeezing.

Yield: 4 to 6 side-dish servings.

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Tree guys

In preparation for hurricane season and winter, the electric company has hired a tree service to cut back branches from the top two wires on utility poles around town. A two-man crew was here the other day on a side street that runs parallel to our backyard. I was home, so hearing the hubbub, I went out to chat them up, offer iced water, and make sure they didn’t mangle the crown of our beloved Japanese umbrella pine. Turns out they did a very nice job, prudently selecting branches and cleaning up afterward. The fellow in the basket of the cherry-picker got a wake-up call from a nest of yellowjackets atop our crab apple tree. Impossible to see from the road, and he didn’t spot it up high until a squadron of bees emerged. He made it down with only one sting.

Out came the spray. One of our neighbors is deathly allergic to bee stings, so I was glad to see the nest’s demise.

It took two spray attacks over consecutive days to knock out the nest of yellowjackets.

Turns out yellowjackets aren’t bees but wasps. In the neighborhood where I grew up, kids called them yellowjacks. I didn’t experience much bee drama as a kid. The only encounter worth noting was the discovery of a giant hornet nest–about the size of a basketball–on the back of the house across the street from us. Word spread fast. All the kids gathered, and the means of destruction was settled on rather quickly: water balloons. A dozen overfilled, unstable water balloons were volleyed at once. The nest exploded in a sodden mass, and a veritable cloud of hornets flew out. Everybody got stung as we ran away and scattered, waving our arms and screaming like maniacs.

 

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“The first breath of autumn….”

That’s a word I hesitate to write this time of year, when summer is in full stride, the turf grass dormant, only the indomitable weeds plump and green, the compacted soil at the edge of the driveway as dense as granite, and the end-of-the-day sun at the beach so warm and comforting it deceives you into thinking that your skin will feel this way forever. Alas, it won’t. So it goes. Each passing day of August brings a postscript: one morning you will awaken, and you will know that summer’s over, the cool tingle of fall on your cheeks, a feeling so crisp and immediate that its sensation can never be undone no matter how hard you try to pretend it away.

I consider this after reading a passage from J. L. Carr’s extraordinary short novel,  A Month in the Country, first published in 1980. I have a lovely, albeit paperback, edition published in 2000 by The New York Review of Books (courtesy of the Robert L. Caruthers Library at the University of Rhode Island), with a hilarious, touching, and indispensable introduction by Michael Holroyd, whose latest book, incidentally, is reviewed today on the cover of The New York Times Book Review. Here it is:

“Just before I bedded down I stood at the window. And he was right–the first breath of autumn was in the air, a prodigal feeling, a feeling of wanting, taking, and keeping before it is too late.”

Born 1912, died 1994. When asked to define himself, he replied: "James Lloyd Carr, a back-bedroom publisher of large maps and small books who, in old age, unexpectedly wrote six novels which, although highly thought of by a small band of literary supporters and by himself, were properly disregarded by the Literary World." (google image)

The novel is infused from first to last with the warmth of rueful serenity. Written in the first person, it the story of a battle-weary World War I veteran, a talented young art historian and technician, who arrives in a small village in rural England where he has been hired to uncover and restore a Renaissance-era mural on the wall of a decrepit church. His time there spans a month, during which he makes friends, makes acquaintances, flows with the new rhythm of daily life, and, of course, falls in love. But falls in love in a way that is entirely his own, a love so heartbreakingly sweet and fragile, so poised at the edge of impossibility, that it fills your own heart with tangible joy and sadness. The narrative voice swells from the memory of the young man now old, looking back across the decades, wondering at what was, is, and might have been. As the image of the large, dramatic mural slowly comes into view from behind a centuries’ old wash of limestone, candle grease, and human exhalation, the narrator gradually finds himself identifying with the unknown artist, both his hand and his temperament, and this increasing artistic awareness dovetails wonderfully with the awareness of his new self, reborn after the horror of war through the balm of social intercourse and conversation, the renewing power of art and of a woman’s beauty.

Well. There it is. A book worth reading. Permit me to leap from macro to micro, and share a few of the words and phrases that compelled me to the dictionary while reading A Month in the Country. Like Shakespeare, Carr purposely peppers his story with words that are long gone from use, not only to tie it to an earlier time but also to deliberately separate it, almost physically, from the now time. It’s a way of saying, among other things, that all times are one time. Here we go:

the straw fish-bass
the narrow gate’s sneck
some Tactarian incumbent

seedcake

Poppyseed here, carraway seed in other recipes. I have yet to make this. (google image)

a largish oval escutcheon
sprinkle a little Keating’s once a week
kirtles and snoods
mullion
Bannister-Fletcher
I wouldn’t fancy being in the dock if he was the beak

rabbit pie

Despite the inclusion of the beloved leek in this recipe, there isn't enough money in the world.... (google image)

The Forgotten Garden
The Coral Island
Children of the New Forest

A platelayer crossed, pushing his bike along the path to the station

these fitments

I lit a Woodbine

If the Huns didn't kill you, these would. (google image)

the Wesleyans
humping his estovers
hedges and spinnys

I will allow the so inclined to pursue these delectable phantoms on your own time. Me, I’m going to hump an estover by the spinny, after which I’ll light a Woodbine.

 

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Approaching, we grew apprehensive

Earlier this summer, Nonnie and I were walking at East Matunuck State Beach, our weekly routine year round. There are few better places to carve a path in the sand. The same sky and the same ocean never look the same, and the time of day and season change the interplay of wind and sun and cloud and shadow in infinite ways. Head east toward the houses on perilous perch, the breakwater, the channel that cuts between Galilee and Jerusalem. It’s good luck to reach the breakwater rocks just as the Block Island ferry

Heading to Block Island

passes by. Touch a rock with the tip of a foot, turn around, and head west, where the Ocean Mist beckons from around a bend. The west end in early summer is where you’ll see the partitioned section protecting the piping plovers. Stand a while at the braided nylon rope and let your eyes focus to the pale grays of stone and sand, and you’ll see a plover baby, a ball of fluff on toothpick legs, scooting across the arid plain.

Heading for the water (google image)

It was walking by the west end earlier this summer when we saw an oddly colored and oddly shaped object draped, purposefully, it seemed, on a length of driftwood. Approaching, we grew apprehensive. A bizarre, unsettling sculpture? What the…. It looked organic. What is that? It was a fish. Is that a fish? What the….

View from the south

I took two pix with my cellphone, later sending them to Nick’s iPhone so he could e-mail them to my Mac at home. (Thanks, Nick!) Visuals recorded, we took a close look at what we were seeing. About four and half feet long. Armor-like plates rather than scales. Bony protuberances aligned in rows. Nightmarish snout. Downright prehistoric, we agreed.

View from the north

Once home, I knew we could find out what this critter was through the University of Rhode Island, which has a terrific Marine Biology program. I fired off an e-mail to Professor Jacqueline F. Webb, the program coordinator. Here’s her reply to what we sent:

“Absolutely a sturgeon! Likely Atlantic – you can tell from the shape of the tail and the configuration of the plates on the body.  I get a call about once a year about a sturgeon on the beach. They are locally occurring marine/freshwater migrators of sorts.”

I also wrote my friend Laura Chavanne, in Boston, a keen student of “dudes.” She replied immediately:

“AWESOME! Congratulations on this important scientific discovery!”

A few days later I wrote back to Professor Webb:

“I’ve been reading about the sturgeon since we last corresponded.  Little changed in 200 million years? They must be doing something  right, and consistently. So they can manage to create hybrid spawn across genera? As an  English major, I’m little versed in this curious aspect of reproduction. Do other fresh water and salt water dwellers manage
this? An interesting evolutionary ability. Yet they mature late in their life span–so there must be plenty of food for them, and in locations relatively free of predators. Except for  humans, who have hurt them badly. Also interesting. As for polyploidy–well, I’m going to have to spend some time with that concept. It’s past my understanding at the moment, but I’ll crack that shell in time.

“Back to English: I don’t know if you’ve read The Girl with the  Dragon Tattoo and the two sequels, or seen the three motion pictures  (the movies I recommend; the books not so much), but there’s a parody in Sweden called The Girl with the Sturgeon Tattoo. I predict the sturgeon is about to go mainstream!

Noomi Rapace, exquisite as Lisbeth Salander, in the splendid Swedish films based on Stieg Larsson's trilogy (google image)

“Our species was anadromous, I presume. Where might it have come from? Any ideas? Thanks so much for getting me into this!”

Here was her reply:

“Yes, they are quite ancient and interesting. Here’s a site I found that addresses your questions: http://www.ct.gov/dep/cwp/view.asp?A=2723&Q=325960

“Anadromy – the site above indicates that the only river that has a normally spawning population of Atlantic sturgeon is the Hudson, so the one you saw may have been looking for a river, but didn’t succeed.

“Hybrids across genera – rare among fishes (and in all animals), especially since chromosome numbers vary among different species (that messes things up when egg and sperm meet).

“Polyploidy – most animals have one set of chromosomes from mom, another from dad, so they are considered 2n. A polyploid organism is 3n or 4n due to chromosome duplication some time in their evolutionary history – some salmon are polyplid, too.

“For all that you ever wanted to know about fish – to search by common or scientific name, see: www.fishbase.org (approved by fish people). Also, the RIDEM site has a good series of pages on fishes of Rhode Island. See: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/index.htm

“Hope that helps!”

Indeed, it helps. Mystery solved. Thanks so much, Professor Webb! I will treat you to a dozen raw bivalve mollusks!

The Matunuck Oyster Bar, on Succotash Road, gets it right

By the way, having mentioned the Ocean Mist, here’s a recent pic taken from the deck, looking west. What’s not to love? A great big thank-you to daughter Liz for e-mailing my cellphone pix of the Ocean Mist, Matunuck Oyster Bar, and the Block Island ferry via her iPhone.

Sigh

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Trust the Artist

Made a birthday cd for my friend Jeff Silva, a grand lad. Here’s the set list:

1)    Oh My Heart                               R.E.M.                                                                       3:21
2)    Rain Rain Go Away                   Lee Dorsey                                                               2:48
3)    Jockey Full of Bourbon            Joe Bonamassa                                                        5:22
4)    St. Louis Blues                           Flamin’ Groovies                                                     2:38
5)    Got a Ukelele                              Loudon Wainwright III                                         2:39
6)    Seeing Black                               Lucinda Williams                                                    5:14
7)    Falsehood                                    Vijay Iyer, Prasanna & Nitin Mitta                     6:39
8)    Ride Me High                             J.J. Cale                                                                    3:39
9)    I’m a Hummingbird                  Eels                                                                            3:14
10)  Calypso Minor                            Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya                                  6:24
11)  Used to Be a Cop                        Drive-By Truckers                                                  7:04
12)  Firesuite                                      Doves                                                                        4:36
13)  Champion Angel                        The Low Anthem                                                    5:34
14)  Universal Applicant                  Bill Callahan                                                            5:53
15)  Country Boy                                Miracle Legion                                                       4:46
16)  The High Road                           The Feelies                                                              4:27
17)  Put It There, Pal                         Bing Crosby & Bob Hope                                     1:44
18)  Please Don’t Let Our Sweet Love Die      Daily & Vincent                                   3:44

The studio recording of the Wainwright track, a charming tune, makes a sly reference to Jerry Lewis, who is–yes, I’m in le camp français–a motion-picture genius. If you are in doubt, kindly invoke a directive I concocted, one that has never let me down: Trust the Artist. So check out this short clip, from The Bellboy. Here Lewis’s character becomes a force that, as in cartoons, can alter reality through the strength of the imagination. Remember how the Coyote runs off a cliff and is suspended, not falling until he looks down and questions his belief? Same fountain sustains Lewis.YouTube Preview Image Yes, he’s overbearing and obnoxious and inconsistent. Who isn’t? This won’t be the last we hear of him here, but I’ll give you plenty of warning.

The Low Anthem, a wonderful Rhode Island-based band, here ascends into Neil Young territory with “Champion Angel,” a song that is great to sing along with while you’re doing the dishes.YouTube Preview Image My sister Carole taught me the joy of singing while washing and drying in our youth. She’d wash, I’d dry. This was how I came to understand the concept of harmony, and then to execute it, by singing along with her in the kitchen and having each note separated and explained. It was The Everly Brothers who provided the portal for me, via Carole. The first song that allowed me the conceptual breakthrough was “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” Surely, they were channeling Apollo.YouTube Preview Image Later, as my affection for harmony developed, I found access to third and fourth parts. I could drive across Canada singing along with Phil and Don, and not know what I was doing until the trance broke in Vancouver.

Well, I can’t let the last link be a restaurant. Looking through video of Lee Dorsey online, I found this gem, from a 1967 performance at the Culture House, in Finland. YouTube Preview Image

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