Blog Troubles.

I am getting emails from Dear Readers today (Friday, Sept. 28) wondering if I have suddenly retired from blogging.

It seems that many of you are not getting my most recent blog post, and are instead still stuck on this old one from last week.

I am trying to fix it. And by “trying to fix it”, I mean I am pouring myself a big stinking vodka tonic and wishing that life wasn’t so hard. It’s been a tough week.

In fact, the title of this week’s blog post is: Jesus, What a Week.

Spoiler Alert: This week’s blog is also tagged “I Want to Punch Brett Kavanaugh in his Pie Hole.

Please keep trying. I hope to figure out how to get us back to regularly scheduled programming real soon.



So I was in California last week, the cute little town of Calabasas, to be exact. I went to the Calabasas Film Festival. I saw Colette.

I did not like it. If you go, I will tell you that it is a very pretty film to look at, but turn your ears off. The dialogue is excruciating. It’s 65% expository (that is, the characters narrate their inner lives so that watching the movie feels like watching a term paper, and a high school term paper at that) and as the movie is mostly about Colette’s sex life and not her life as an artist, there was a lot of chatter about sex and very little chit chat about writing good sentences. I was bored.

I have zero curiosity about what people do in the privacy of their bedroom or the hayloft or the 6th arrondissement in Paris. I do not know why people make movies, or want to watch movies, about something as mundane as sexual awakenings.

Oh. Wait. Yes I do.

This is a real book, and the name of the woman character that you see on the cover is Vivian Swift. For reals.

Sex sells. To people who have no imagination. . . or so I’m guessing. But I’m a Capricorn. The most interesting part of Colette for me was when her husband, a writer and editor, reads Colette’s first attempt at fiction and tells her that it is full of beautiful descriptions but won’t sell because it has no plot. I like this scene because I am starting my writing workshops here on the north shore of Long Island next week and I am gearing up to help people know who they are as writers, and being able to pinpoint writing blind spots is a crucial part of being a good workshop leader.

The thing about travel is that you never know where your next cup of tea is coming from. The first night of the Calabasas Film Festival, for example, I had two glasses of white wine and a big box of Junior Mints for dinner because I could not partake of the official menu of fishy stuff and avocado stuff, because I don’t like the taste of anything with a fin and the idea of eating green mush is revolting. So I scavenged what I could at the movie theater and ended up dining on my favorite forms of sugar.

Now that I’m back here on the East Coast, it’s taken me four full days to get back into the swing of things (because I made the mistake of catching up with the news and it’s been a tremendously big shit storm out there, tremendously big and wet, from the standpoint of the verbal diarrhea spewing from der Drumpf’s pie hole).

So I did not attempt to build a 10th castle this week. But I did go to the used book store to sort the recent donations so, just for you, here is the Most Boring Book of the Week straight from the Bryant Library Used Book Store:

When people talk to me about donating books I always make sure to tell them that we do not accept college text books. I think the title of this book explains why. Even if we price this at 50 cents nobody is going to buy this thing.

And worse yet, college text books are hideous both on the outside and on the inside:

I feel sorry for the student who had to read this book for her Spanish Literature class but why should she inflict her pain on us?

I looked up this book, which is a small (6 inches by 9 inches, 108 pages) book that is still for sale to liberal arts majors in America. It costs $47.50. Yes. this little book costs almost fifty dollars. (My books are twice as long and cost half as much.)

So that’s why the person who donated this book. She couldn’t bear to just throw away  $47.50. It’s a lot to spend on a book that you will only read once in your life. But hey. Nobody asked her to waste her life by highlighting the progress of textual culture, in all its forms, in no way lessened the importance granted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to two other mediums of knowledge, memory, and persuasion: that is, the image and the oral discourse.

In other words, book publishing did not make painting and talking obsolete.

Like, duh.

Cat news: While I was away, Candy moved out of my shower, finally. She now inhabits the upstairs hallway. Yay. I get my bathroom back, but I now have litter boxes and a napping cat that I have to step over every time I to-and-fro.

My 18-year old cat, Coco, is looking really bad so I am taking her to the vet this afternoon.

Next week I will have a castle to show you, one that I hope will be a show stopper.

Until next Friday, Dear Readers, have a great weekend. There’s a new, more evil hurricane of Republican bullshit heading our way and we all need to keep calm and flip congress in November.


21 Comments, RSS

  1. Casey

    There you are! I’ve been checking this space for our Friday morning tea together. Now I see why you were detained. Jet lag. I get that bad whenever I travel west. It’s worse than when I travel east.

    OK, check, don’t see Colette. I am looking so forward to A Star is Born!

    Criminey, what a book. I was thinking how much you would have to pay me to read about early modern Spainish philosophy and it is much in excess of $47.50.

    • Vivian

      I forgot to tell you that when I ordered the Junior Mints the guy at the concession counter asked me, “Would you like these, or a box from the freezer?”

      Yes. They sell FROZEN Junior Mints at the Regal Cinema in Calabasa, CA.

      And that is why Calabasas is known for its superb quality of life.

  2. How I love your flower fairy castle.
    I’m sure your writing workshop will be splendid – and most worthwhile for the participants.
    What a chest your lover has in the Taylor Chase epic. How dull the academic book seems. What torture such pedantic stuff is….
    Professor Quentin Bell looked at me over his half glasses and pronounced: “Buffy, you are not an academic person.”
    I rather pleased. He did not mean I was stupid – he was much too kind for that. Being academic is rather damning in my view.
    Love your cats as ever.
    An autumn drink in the city at some point?

    • Vivian

      Elizabeth! I thought you had picked up and moved to Marrakech! Glad to know that you’re back. Most assuredly, let’s get together for drinks and etc.

  3. Saw the Times review of Colette and I just couldn’t get a handle on it. Life is short — I may give this one a pass. Although it’s hard to pass up a French author who loved cats and wrote Gigi.

    Don’t start me on politics. And last night’s revelation is all the ammunition they need to add to the mess. I know a sarcastic remark when I hear one but it will be taken as truth by the Head Cheeto.

    But the good news in all this is Candy’s emergence. So smart to let her have her own time and space –and that can be a sacrifice. Good luck with Coco.

    • Vivian

      I read that New York Times’ review also and I couldn’t figure it out…I quote: “What interests Mr. Westmoreland [the director] is how a self-described country girl became a woman of the world, a transformation that in its deeper, more intimately mysterious registers remains out of reach of this movie…”

      But for some reason, this doesn’t tank the film for the reviewer Manohla Dargis. She describes it as full of light and air, which means Froth. So like I said, it’s a pretty movie to look at, but it’s froth for the brain. I have better things to do.

  4. Patricia

    I once saw a musical about Colette starring Diana Riggs. It was in out of town previews in Seattle before moving to Broadway. It died in Seattle, deservedly so. And I really LIKE Diana Riggs. In my late 40s I was inspired to study martial arts thanks to her portrayal of Emma Peel… hanging on for four years and earning a brown belt (and a lot of bruises and broken bones).*

    Maybe a French actress could play Colette instead of British actresses? And better material?

    *note to self; do NOT start studying martial arts at age 48

    • Vivian

      wow. That’s dedication to start martial arts at 48. I am 62 and fairly fit, going to the gym 5 days a week and training with a personal trainer every Friday, and the other day I swung a gold club for the first time in ages and threw my shoulder out. Yikes. It was the first time I got the message that I can’t assume that the flesh is as willing as the spirit.

  5. Kirra

    Bummer about Colette, I agree it’s disappointing when the opportunity to make a film about an interesting person is spent on one thing and not giving a rounded presentation of them.

    Good luck surviving the politics, I’m sure your cats will help. Hope Coco goes okay at the vet and hurray for Candy moving onto the landing.

    I feel sorry for the uni student, but shouldn’t there be some online second hand bookshop where they can sell only textbooks for 50 cents!? Help out a fellow student with your already highlighted book.

    Looking forward to the next castle creation, which I’ll be reading from Salzburg!

    • Vivian

      I’m so excited about your sojourn to Salzburg!

      I agree with you. 50 cents is about what that book is worth. It is criminal to make a kid pay $50 bucks for nothing but blather.

  6. Judy Jennings

    Well, Vivian, I’m in no way interested in that piece of flesh on the posted book cover, but now yes, I would surely give my vote and attention to Y. Jadot from last week’s post. Oh, yes I would.
    And your little fairy castle from last week is the best of all, because I can see myself in it, all alone with my books (after having drawn up the stairs and putting crocodiles in the moat, which seems to be missing).

    • Vivian

      I’m still surprised that that teeny fairy castle didn’t make everyone sick. I enjoyed working on it, but I do not want to indulge that sweetness or else I could end up making nothing but itty bitty gnome homes. I am — ahem — a serious artist.

  7. White wine and junior mints sounds like a balanced diet, to my way of thinking! Although I will argue that only overripe or ill-prepared avocados taste like green mush. A good avocado is a lovely thing.

    If that book weren’t highlighted, it’s the kind of thing you could put on A-Libris or even eBay and probably sell. Someone somewhere would want it — it’s just a matter of reaching that person, and the likelihood that they’d wander into your shop is pretty much nil. Do you extend your used-book merchandising to the online realm? I bet you could make a lot of money that way with some of your more unusual finds.

    • Vivian

      I never thought of trying to save some poor college kid $50 but I like your suggestion of finding a way to re-sell it at bargain prices.

      I don’t know if I want to get even more involved with this volunteer work by starting an on line store. Yuk. I hate going to the post office just to mail the five or six packages that I am obligated to do each year. But yes, I wold like to find retail customers for our high-end book finds. We got another such beauty in last week that I will tell you about on Friday.

  8. becky

    Hope all goes well with Coco. Pets are such a worry, especially as they get older. They depend on us for so much.
    Glad Candy is seemed to be done better. You were so patient to let her convalesce at her own speed.
    What more can be said about politics….it is more satisfying to watch you construct castles and discuss cats…..or dogs.

    • Vivian

      I’m with you. Castle-making is a fantastic way to get a break from the disgusting news. Every time I see Brett Kavannaugh’s face I want to punch it.

  9. Thanks for the head’s up on Colette. I won’t be seeing it now, but might get a box of Junior Mints to watch something on Netflix. Ha! Junior Mints are always what I must have for movies. Definitely voting in November!! Hope Coco is feeling better. Totally agree with you on Kavanaugh! I believe her!!!

    • Vivian

      Try putting your Junior Mints in the freezer for a few hours. It is quite a fun taste sensation. And they do pair well with an ice cold Sauvignon Blanc.

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