Feb 21, 2017

Why don't they just purchase blood --- This is heaven --- teaser (21)

We've been slacking, but here it is, the next teaser of This Is Heaven. This teaser is mostly for insiders, intimi to the meanderings of the Twilight Saga (hint: Robert Pattinson). In the previous chapter Alex has told John about his devastating plan to move back to his own dig, and now we see John exposed anew to Taylor and his friends from the club of vampire freaks, including pal Tex. Tex is about to develop renegade thoughts, so we keep it short (the picture is Joe Phillip's design for the cover of the book). 

I get distracted by the sight of Taylor. Taylor is with his pal (“Tex”), who’s talking insistently. They end up at our stand, Taylor buys a lighter from Luke, but his pal won’t let up. “I understand Count Dracula and his folks,” Tex is saying, “they were mean-spirited and banking blood wasn’t on the agenda then, surely they had to feed on humans, but the Cullens of Twilight, Doctor Carlisle is a medical doctor, and they’re so preppy and above the fray and in favor of gun control, I’m sure, I’m sure they’re fucking liberals, all of them, why don’t they just purchase blood from a blood bank? Why this hunting of deer in the rainy forest of the Puget sound?”

“You don’t get it,” Taylor answers.

“And you should look at the deer, these cute Bambies grazing on succulent ferns growing for the occasion between the redwood trees. And then there’s a sense of impending danger because the director of photography won’t hold still, Bambi’s eyes dart at us, a cry for help that goes unanswered because we’re strapped to the comfort chairs of this multiplex, popcorn at hand. And now she’s off, Bambi, running for her life, and Dr. Carlisle is chasing her, although you can’t really see him chasing her, what you see is a vortex of black substance chasing Bambi, but it is Carlisle, to be sure, it’s him or Emmet or Rosalie or Esme or somebody else of his clan.”
“You don’t get it.”
“No, exactly, I don’t get it,” Tex says.
“It’s easy,” Taylor answers.
“No, it’s not.”
“Well, the question has been asked before.”


"Bambi's eyes dart at us, a cry for help that goes unanswered because we're strapped to the comfort chairs of this multiplex."

Taylor’s looking for help, and we make eye contact. Eye contact is different once you’ve had sex, and it had been me who got him into this shit yesterday, I really have to make it up to him: “Look it up on the internet,” I say to Tex.

Feb 10, 2017

Florence (4) --- Find a caption

So, on Wednesday, we happen upon Giotto's tower next to the Duomo, a 114 meter erection built with the prescient eye of a genius who foresaw the needs of modern adventure tourism, in particular re the ultimate experience of climbing the five hundred and forty nine steps leading to the top where visitors can enjoy a refreshing summer breeze or the high, stale winter winds of February 9, 2017.

Tickets had not yet been invented when Michael first visited Florence, so he just went there and counted the steps and enjoyed the breeze. Now we have an army vehicle painted in fatigues parked next to the entrance, and you need a ticket which is very expensive but also avails access to other Duomo venues, in particular the Cupola where you have to make a reservation---the only venue that requires one, meaning that said Cupola is much better than the museum where you don't need a reservation, not to mention the cathedral proper where you don't even need a ticket (you do need a ticket for the toilet, though, see previous post).

Arriving at the top, we realize that the Cupola features a visitor's platform as well, located a few meters higher than ours, vertically speaking. 

So we make a reservation for the next day (1049 places left), for 13:30 (1:30 PM), the first time slot available.

We arrive too early on Thursday and have to kill time in the Yellow Bar with a bottle of Prosecco. 

And then we (a) have to make it through an intricate vetting procedure reservation-wise, (b) get lost in the cathedral proper, (c) are redirected by a guard to the stair case leading up to the cupola platform, (d) and are told it's only five thousand six hundred forty nine steps, "un numero con implicazioni numerologiche." There are some intermediate platforms, and this is the first we hit: 

There are more complications, including the narrow gallery at the base of the Cupola proper, ca. 6 inches wide, which you have to negotiate with a view on oncoming traffic (regardless how you do it, there's a lot of intimate touching, and the Japanese girls blush on contact). (The boys blush, too.)

Anyhow, the stairs continue:

And there we are, with a view on Giotto's tower. Find a caption:

"I hate the Pope." 

Feb 9, 2017

Florence (3)

In his book about Florence, David Leavitt talks about Cibreo,

"one of the most famous restaurants in town [which] is divided into two parts, an expensive ristorante and a less-expensive trattoria, where you get the same food at half the price. At the trattoria, however, you have to sit on chairs that challenge the sturdiest back, crowd with strangers at tiny tables,..The food is authentically, one might even say rigorously, Tuscan. Pasta is never served..."

When we arrive for lunch at 1PM, the place is empty, save for two disoriented Japanese. The waiter sits down next to us to explain the specials. We have stuffed rabbit, green salad, potatoes, and orange cheese cake, which is served with a cheerful "ecco qua," (there it is, we learn). We also learn the difference between buono ("good"), and bene ("fine"). Gradually, the place fills up. The wine was a reasonable Chardonnay from Alto Adige ("Südtirol"). 

Florence (2)

To climb Giotto's tower (here's a view from the top)...

...you need a ticket (15 €) which you can buy at a ticket office. It's worth it...

Yes, this is a view of the Ticket Office's bathroom.

Feb 8, 2017

Florence (1)

We decided to go to Florence for a few days and so we swang by Portofino, on the Cinque Terre peninsula, to the east of Genua. Nothing special happened, and there's nothing to trigger (yet) another fragment from This is Heaven. Enjoy.

Feb 2, 2017

No need for a caption

(Our friend Glenn sends this:)

Donald Trump, seriously

(Trump Jump, Twitler, immigrant, kakistocracy, Donald Lump, trumpcare, Trump Treatment, Tyrannosaurus rump, alternative facts, Hot Donald, Trumps Razor, small hands:  The Urban Dictionary, our favorite linguistic cyclopedia, has dropped its habitual preoccupation with matters autoerotic and gone full Trump Dump since the Machtsübernahme, and so our friend Glenn wants to know what we think about the new president. Glenn's particularly interested in answers regarding Trump's intelligence:)

Trump is intelligent, at least technically. He can think on his feet, he's wily, sly, cunning, and has been successful for more than forty years in a difficult business---not as successful as he claims, but he's survived four or six bankruptcies, several trophy wives, and a grueling election campaign---you can't do this without substantial raw intelligence. There are NYT reports regarding his deal making, which emphasize that his negotiation skills really shine when we get into the fine print (the annotations of complex real-estate contracts)---meaning that even his attention span is substantial when he's into a "deal." And then there is corroborating evidence about his work as developer---a developer obsessed with details, we read. So yes, he's clever.

Which doesn't mean he's Socrates. He's not an intellectual, let alone a thinker. He won't take time to think unless it's urgent business. He's a results man---or business man---in the worst conceivable sense. And he's extremely narcissistic---no need to elaborate, just one more anecdote (we quote the Washington Post):
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