Happy Birthday, Émile

zolaFrom the Writers’ Almanac about one of my favorite authors:

Today is the birthday of the French novelist and journalist Émile Zola (books by this author), born in Paris (1840). He invented a new style of fiction writing that he called Naturalism, which he defined as “nature seen through a temperament.” He had been inspired by Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1839), and he decided to try applying scientific principles of observation to the practice of writing fiction. The result was a 20-novel cycle, a kind of fictional documentary about the influence of heredity and environment on an extended family. It was called Les Rougon-Macquart. Some of the novels of the cycle include The Drunkard (1877), Nana (1880), and Germinal (1885).

Zola said, “The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.”

And, “If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”

The Sting (1973): Newman and Redford Reunited

One of my all-time favorite films, The Sting.

4 Star Films

the sting 3

To my mind, there’s never been a dream team quite like Paul Newman and Robert Redford — a perfect one-two punch of camaraderie and cool — it comes so easy. All the ladies wanted to swoon over them, and all the men wanted to be like them. Because what they have together is something envied by us all.

Butch Cassidy was, of course, the breakout success helping to redefine the western in 1969 while also cementing the burgeoning buddy genre. It’s amazing we only ever got one other picture in the storied partnership. Thankfully it was The Sting.

Let me be candid. It’s not as great as its predecessor. I never had the same fondness for its narrative diversions and yet even on subsequent viewings, it assuredly plays to its strengths.

The period crime film captures a strain of nostalgia that feels even more euphoric seen through a second…

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Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some timely  catching up with friends (old and new)!

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you how you did during week 3 of the WuFlu Quarantine. Isn’t this a strange time? It is a sacrifice to stay in quarantine, even if it isn’t the same as running into a bomb shelter every night or surviving a nuclear bomb. Most of us will suffer great financial loss and a few will suffer the ultimate health loss. It’s not as bad as dystopian fiction makes such times out to be, but it is weird and harmful.

Work has continued and my team’s done a bang up job as we strive to be productive with so many constraints. I haven’t resorted to spending the day in pajamas or sleeping in. I’ve even managed to keep up with my Lenten resolve to give up red wine and chocolate, though I haven’t done the writing I hoped I would. I admit I’ve had chocolate a couple times, but I’ll just choose a couple days after Easter and the Monday after to make up for that.

After finishing The Hustler, I’ve now watched all the films I’ve gotten from the library. I own some DVDs I haven’t seen yet. I can go on to Kanopy, a streaming service from the library and see what they offer. In the past, I’ve had buffering issues with Kanopy. The library also has a service called Hoopla, but for some reason I’m having trouble exiting my defunct account via the library I worked for and changing over to my local library. Since we can pick up food for take out, I’m ready for library take out. Please?

I just started an online course on the U.S. Constitution, which is very high quality. It’s from Hillsdale and I like how it shows background information such as the state constitutions that influenced the national one. Each lesson is 30 minutes or so, which means I learn a lot without being deluged with information.

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from pixabay.com

Inspired by watching Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship, I’ve decided to bake every week. My baking for the week was a pineapple upside down cake. I’d forgotten how tasty this old classic is. I used crushed pineapple and I think I liked that better than the rings. This week I’m toying with the idea of baking hot crossed buns.

It is a weird time. Not much going on and it’s impossible to plan anything. My nephew’s high school graduation was canceled. A niece who’s graduating college had her graduation postponed till August, which I think is wise. The school can’t count on a May date, yet these students deserve a ceremony. While they’ve all gone home, they can choose to return for a ceremony one weekend. Some may be in new cities working at new jobs, but I bet that number will be quite low.