Chapter 107: COVID Chronicles

July 13, 2020

By Karen

Day 124

Max, My Guinea Pig & Trump v. John Adams

He keeps topping himself, but in Trump’s most ridiculous assertion to date, he predicts that all media (social, print and TV) will wither and die under Joe Biden because Biden would get “low ratings.”

After three+ years of whining and screaming about wanting “the enemy of the people,” The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, out of business, Trump in his dementia has the nerve to claim credit for their markets. Like we all want All-Trump-24/7. The narcissism and madness have reached another galaxy.

Trump played golf this past weekend and had a big white van parked near the course to block photographers’ view. But someone managed to capture this priceless little clip of Lard-Ass’s steadily advancing meltdown. Watch his left leg as he walks away (hope this works, I just figured out how to embed tweets)…

There’s NO WAY to rationalize that leg splay as anything but involuntary lack of muscle control (or a twisted diaper). Now, if only COVID would catch up with him. Even #MoscowMitch McConnell is getting cold feet about breathing COVID fumes in Jacksonville during the GOP convention, with Florida smashing through all records for new daily COVID cases, surpassing 15,000 on July 12.

NOW, TO THE CAT BEAT: Yesterday I washed the purple blankie that has been Max and Roc’s battleground at the end of the couch. To figure out what Max is really fixated on — the couch or the blankie — I switched it with the pink blankie from the rocker. Max has never had a problem with it. In fact, it was his favorite spot last Christmas…

My hypothesis: Max would either prove that what covers the couch is irrelevant and it’s a turf war, or he’d go to the rocker because his real love is the purple blankie.

So, I invited Max to sit beside me on the couch. When he noticed that his end looked different, he not only refused to touch the pink blanket, but seemed a bit agitated. After I swapped things back, Max went right over to his spot and plopped down.

Bottom line: It’s the couch AND the purple blankie.

ANOTHER SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH: I’ve discovered how not to have Trump be my last thought at night (leading to nightmares), or my first shriek of despair in the morning.

While I was watching the musical 1776 last week, I had an urge to learn everything about John Adams. We were born roughly 42 miles apart in Massachusetts, so he’s my people. I ordered a used but pristine copy of David McCullough’s mammoth Pulitzer Prize-winning biography, John Adams, for $7, including shipping.

Last night I started reading it before bed, and I’m already hooked. Adams was only about 5’7” or 8” and many found him mouthy and obnoxious. He was considered a conservative, but had many liberal positions like anti-slavery. As a person, he was virtually Trump’s opposite. For example, only one wife, Abigail, and their voluminous correspondence is hard evidence that they had a strong, loving 54-year marriage.

Anyway, I went to sleep trying to picture the Adams farm in Braintree, and woke up still thinking about Adams.

Just as in 2001, after I heard George W. Bush refer to the 9/11 terrorists “the folks who did this” and immediately drove to Charlottesville to visit Monticello and be near  Thomas Jefferson, I think Adams will take the edge off Trump through the election.

Well, after I hit “Pause” tomorrow to read Mary Trump’s damning book about Uncle Donald, Too Much and Never Enough.

 


Chapter 106: COVID Chronicles

July 12, 2020

By Karen

Day 123

Trump Finally Masks Up & Natalie Wood Still Haunts Us

Today marks exactly four months I’ve been cooped up. Last night I got another haul of Chinese takeout to put off going to the grocery store a few more days. I feel safer spending a few minutes at China Taste’s plexiglass window than wandering through a whole Aldi or Food Lion, possibly among mask-free Trumpers.

Virginia just hit 70,000 cases, with daily figures increasing from roughly 600 to 900. The foolhardy reopening, against Governor Northam’s medical training and common sense, seems to be catching up with us.

Meanwhile, Trump returned to Walter Reed to visit wounded troops — the ones who cheated Trump’s buddy Putin of the opportunity to pay a bounty on their corpses — and Trump wore a mask…

During his chopper talk before leaving the White House, Trump said he thinks it’s customary to wear masks in hospitals (DUH, ya THINK?) and that he’s “never” been against wearing masks.

His lies just keep spewing like a firehose.

Meanwhile, his little buddy Roger Stone minces off with a nice commutation from 40 months in the slammer for seven felonies, just in time for Stone to commit more helping Trump cheat to a second term.

On the home front, this morning I washed a big load of cat blankies, including the purple one at the center of Roc and Max’s struggle over the couch. I’m wondering if it’s the location or the blankie that’s drawing Max, and plan an experiment tonight if he comes downstairs.

Right after I used a pet glove to clean fur off the couch cover, Roc had to claim the sunny spot. Tony prefers to bask upright. He looks so big!…

But as soon as Tony noticed me taking his picture, he came at me like a celebrity flushing paparazzi out of the bushes…

I have almost enough to build a kitten from what came off the blankies in the dryer, but at least it’s not fur stuck all over the house…

Speaking of celebrities, last night I watched the new HBO documentary, Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. Her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, who was 11 when Natalie died, provides much of the commentary. In one creepy scene, she sits opposite Robert Wagner, now 90, as he retells what happened that night on the boat.

Natasha believes he’s blameless, but he didn’t look at all like he was telling the whole truth.

According to him, it was just another night at anchor near Catalina. Natalie was down in their cabin getting ready for bed, and when he went down later, she’d left the boat for no reason whatsoever.

Actor Christopher Walken was also on board. He’d done Brainstorm with Natalie, and its director declared they couldn’t have been having an affair because they had zero chemistry during filming. I have no opinion on that.

I’m also not saying that I think either man pushed Natalie overboard. But I do believe things turned nasty, most likely a fight between Natalie and Wagner over something. Both men know exactly why Natalie left the boat. They were probably relieved to have her go sit in the dinghy to cool down and never dreamed she’d do anything life-threatening.

If Wagner dies first, I hope Walken finally comes clean. For now, they’re sticking to their pact of mutual silence to protect somebody.


Chapter 105: COVID Chronicles

July 11, 2020

By Karen

Day 122

Bourdain & Jane (Eyre)

Lark Mason is auctioning through igavelauctions.com an ink drawing Anthony Bourdain did when he was about 20 years old. It’s called “Stay Calm”…

Bidding is underway if you’re interested, and runs until July 21. When I checked this morning, it was at $1,000.

What’s interesting is that Tony kept this drawing for four decades. Although he never talked about it, except to say that as a kid he wanted to illustrate comic books, he must have been proud of his art. He could capture the essence of things. Like his signature chef’s knife, which he drew for me, along with a self-portrait, in a few quick Sharpie strokes…

On the literary front, I read Jane Eyre in 10th grade English and loved it so much, I’ve tried to see every screen adaptation, starting with the 1943 Hollywood movie starring Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles. Welles as Rochester was so-so, but you can see from the movie poster how totally not-Jane Joan Fontaine was…

My all-time favorite Jane Eyre was a four-hour 1983 miniseries starring Zelah Clarke and Timothy Dalton, who has just the right roughly handsome ugliness. As did George C. Scott, who starred in the 1971 Jane Eyre with Susannah York, who was too old…

It’s been done many times. But last night I took in the 2011 Jane Eyre. Mia Wasikowska, who was a lousy Madame Bovary, was a perfect Jane. (But I still give “definitive” credit to Zelah Clarke).

Judi Dench had the small role of Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper. Mr. Rochester was Michael Fassbender.

The trailer looks like a horror movie. Even with a maniac in the attic, Thornfield is 24/7 too dark and spooky. There’s no Mrs. Poole to pique Jane’s suspicions. In fact, the question of WHAT’S in the attic is almost tangential in this one.

It begins in the middle, with Jane arriving half-dead (why?) on the doorstep of St. John Rivers. The central story is one big flashback and it takes most of the movie to loop back to why Jane ends up with Rivers.

It might be baffling to anyone who hasn’t read the book.

Poor Michael Fassbender, young and smooth, has to ask Jane this question from the book, which seems silly coming from him, “Do you think me handsome?” She’s forced to answer with a straight face, “No.”

Their chemistry is meh. For example, the night Jane saves Rochester from becoming Bertha BBQ in bed, he almost kisses her (prematurely at that stage of their acquaintance). But when Jane pulls back and leaves, Rochester doesn’t even look disappointed.

I got downright irate at my favorite scene, the proposal. Rochester and Jane are strolling through the sunny garden. He’s behind her when he says the line about feeling a cord connecting them, which would make it a leash. Their whole exchange is highly abridged, though it should be pivotal.

Here’s that same scene with Dalton and Clarke. Set and played perfectly, with the dialogue virtually book-verbatim…

I shouldn’t have been surprised when this movie botches the ending. Jane turns down St. John’s proposal to marry and be missionaries when she hears Rochester’s voice calling her on the wind and dashes back to Thornfield.

She finds Rochester has been burned out of Thornfield, but then there’s no mention that he’s blind and lost a hand and thinks Jane wants to be a nurse, not a wife, nor that they work out that misunderstanding so well, they eventually have a son.

It’s just, “They’re back together. Assume happily ever after. The end.”

If you’re into Jane Eyre, this is one to skip.


Chapter 104: COVID Chronicles

July 10, 2020

By Max, Roc and Tony

Day 121

Max, Never the Predator, Ever the Prey

Roc: We’re giving Karen the day off (well, she’s our photographer) to show you a typical morning around here. Last night, Max slept on “his” end of the couch after letting me have it for a “little” while during TV time. I needed to make sure he isn’t ruining it…

Because Max was back there this morning, I kept shooting him dagger looks that made him growl until Karen got annoyed and insisted I sit next to her on the floor while she finished reading the newspaper on her laptop. I wasn’t thrilled to do it, but my treat supply is safer when I don’t cross her…

As soon as Karen got up and went to the kitchen to wash up, she heard a stampede of cat feet chasing Max upstairs. But as Max often does when he really wants to stay downstairs, he immediately returned via his shortcut to the mantle.

Tony: I swear I was just sitting on the second beam, but since I can run like the wind, I naturally became a suspect. But Max knows what happens to snitches, so when Karen questioned him on the mantle, he refused to meow a peep about who chased him there.

Meanwhile, Roc had lammed off to the third beam. I knew he was setting me up to take the fall, using the ironclad alibi that he couldn’t possibly have chased Max from the third beam.

Karen expected me to jump to the bookcase to be interrogated. But since Max was already on the mantle, I decided to play it cool and innocent by taking the stairs (you can see Roc gloating from the third beam)…

Max: Karen’s no fool. She knew all along Roc was my tormenter, so after Tony’s story checked out, she went upstairs to make Roc face justice. That’s when he decided to distract her by showing off one of the most dangerous moves a kitty can do in this house: the deadly third-beam-to-banister leap…

Roc then pirouetted and stayed up there to throw me the fish-eye on the mantle…

And Tony, who’d returned to the second beam, to ensure his continued silence…

Tony: Roc knows I’m no canary. I’d never rat him out. Besides, he makes banister-strolling look so easy, his sheer guts amaze me…

In the background downstairs, you can see our new Chewy.com box fort that came last night filled with goodies. Now I have a riddle for you. Can you guess who was sitting in the perch this morning? You get three guesses. You can put them in the comments…

BONUS: Comedian Sarah Cooper strikes again with Trump’s boast to Sean Hannity about how he aced a cognitive test and amazed the doctors at Walter Reed “very recently.” One would assume he did this in November during his still-unexplained visit, and raises the question: What medical emergency was he having that necessitated a fresh evaluation of his marbles?…


Chapter 103: COVID Chronicles

July 9, 2020

By Karen

Day 120

Waxing Poetic & Pissed at SCOTUS

Once upon a time, I was an English major. But one of my least favorite things about it was analyzing poetry. I remember slamming into the wall on this little gem by e e cummings in both high school and college. Perhaps you’ve seen it…

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens

PoetryFoundation.com describes the high school experience perfectly. I’d want to strangle every teacher who taught this one and asked, “But WHAT depends so much on the red wheelbarrow?”

NOTHING! Can’t you recognize gibberish, you fool? The guy doesn’t even know how to capitalize or punctuate!

Now another pesky poem from my past that used to make my eyes roll back in my head, by William Butler Yeats, keeps popping up in the media.  You’ll understand why if you read it with Trump in mind. It makes terrifying sense…

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Our “Second Coming” would be a Trump second term, should he last that long. But the “rough beast” actually arrived in 2017 and has been tearing the center to ribbons, aided by “the worst, full of passionate intensity.”

Today the Supreme Court finally ruled that Trump isn’t above the law in New York, and a grand jury can have his financial records. But then SCOTUS had to kick Congress in the balls by sending their similar request back to the lower courts, in a prime example of what happens when “the (supposed) best lack all conviction.”

In bringing about a quicker end to the vile scourge of Trump, Congress has failed us and now the Supreme Court has failed us. Meanwhile, Trump exploits a lethal virus — and the gullible nitwits willing to spread it for him — to kill off as many of us as he can.

Our only hope left until November, when we can slay this beast ourselves at the polls, is for COVID-19 — aided by Trump’s own myriad health issues — to find him and slay him first.


Chapter 102: COVID Chronicles

July 8, 2020

By Karen

Day 119

Robert E. Lee Stands Alone & Catching Up With the Kitties

Yesterday the statue of General J.E.B. Stuart came down…

Photo James H. Wallace, Richmond Times-Dispatch

Now the only Confederate left standing on Monument Avenue is Robert E. Lee, and he’s probably feeling like it’s Appomattox all over again.

There’s still no word on where the statues are hidden or what’s going to be done with them.

Next up on the Virginia To-Do list should be banning the Confederate Flag, which promises to raise an even bigger stink than the statues. I’m surprised Trump isn’t flying one over the White House right now, just for spite.

Speaking of Trump, the publication date of his niece Mary’s book, Too Much and Never Enough, has been moved up to July 14. I’ll be downloading the e-book as soon as I get the green light. Fingers crossed that hearing every cable news talking head laughing at him and swapping anecdotes about what a fucked-up little demon-child Trump was will accelerate his meltdown.

Richmond has had several straight weeks of humid weather over 90o. Even with central air and fans, we feel it and I’m more often drenched in sweat than not. Roc finds it cooler to nap on my recycle paper than in his comfy bed…

Yesterday, new collars for Roc and Tony arrived. Yes, I still hope Tony will one day accept wearing a collar so he doesn’t look like a stray.

As it turns out, that day has not yet arrived. As soon as Tony was in his new collar, he deflated. He kept scratching at his neck and shuffling around with his head down. His usual joie de vivre was gone. He’s already a virtuoso when it comes to playing me. So, Max got the new collar instead and he seems very satisfied with it…

Tony checked out Roc’s handsome new look…

Tony is obsessed by shadows. This morning he thought he saw something on the wall and we had this brief exchange (listen carefully) about it, but he finally agreed it was nothing…

BONUS: Did you happen to catch Trump saying he’d wear a mask if he had to? He wore a black one once and thought it made him look “like the Lone Ranger.” Comedian Sarah Cooper shows us how effective that would be…

PS: In case you’re unfamiliar with The Lone Ranger, here’s what his mask looked like…

And yet Trumpers are still out there believing Trump’s just fine.


Chapter 101: COVID Chronicles

July 7, 2020

By Karen

Day 118

A Fun Escape to Song and Dance

Over the weekend I got lost in three musicals to forget for a few hours COVID and Trump’s exhausting hate and ignorance. No matter what the reviews say, every time I see these movies, I find something new about them and love them even more.

Mel Brooks’ masterpiece The Producers starred Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, with Uma Thurman for sex. I noticed a bit player named “Kiss Mee-Feel Me,” one of the little old ladies who finance Max Bialystock’s flops, was Andrea Martin, aka Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (a comedy I love).

This number, “Betrayed,” performed by Lane near the end of the movie, gives a synopsis of the whole show and is as close to a tour-de-force as it gets…

Next I visited Chicago with Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renée Zellweger, Richard Gere and Queen Latifah. I’d forgotten how good this was. And this time I was surprised to see in the small role of Fred, Roxie Hart’s lover whose murder in the beginning gets the whole story rolling, Dominic West, who later went on to greater things in the series, The Affair, which I highly recommend. Here’s the Chicago finale…

And finally, I went back to 1776. It was released in 1972, the year came to Virginia. I must have seen it after I got here, because a line that’s always stuck with me came in a scene between John and Abigail Adams, discussing how John brought Thomas Jefferson’s wife Martha to Philadelphia to help Thomas get his rocks off so he could focus on writing the Declaration of Independence.

Abigail: How do you suppose she managed to get away?

John: Well, the winters are softer in Virginia.

Abigail: And their women, John?

John: Fit for Virginians, but pale, puny things beside New England girls.

Yes!!

Anyway, TCM ran the restored full version and it includes “Cool, Cool, Considerate Men,” a number that was cut at Richard Nixon’s insistence.

If you view no other clip in this post, WATCH THIS. Imagine the performers are Trump’s Senate enablers in wigs and tights, led by Mitch McConnell…


Chapter 100: COVID Chronicles

July 6, 2020

By Karen

Day 117

As Trump Melts Down, He Spews Projection in Every Direction

On July 3 at Mount Rushmore, Trump delivered what enablers describe as a “fiery” speech. Sure it was, if you ignore Trump’s choppy, monotone teleprompter recitation, showing occasional flashes of comprehension.

Trump’s rhetoric is now 100% projection of his own myriad human flaws and crimes. Here’s just one example from the speech, talking about Democrats…

“The radical ideology attacking our country advances under the banner of social justice. But in truth, it would demolish both justice and society. It would transform justice into an instrument of division and vengeance and turn our free society into a place of repression, domination and exclusion.”

In Trump’s fantasy world, it’s Democrats who are stacking the courts with loyal judges to punish their enemies and let their friends crime scot-free. It’s the Democrats who persecute minorities with police brutality, close polling stations in Black communities, and ban Muslims from entering the country.

Trump went on with…

“They want to silence us, but we will not be silenced.”

This from the man who NEVER shuts up and would abolish the press if he could. The man who still fights to hide his school grades, medical records, tax returns and innumerable affairs. Not to mention trying to keep secret his every conversation with world leaders and anybody he’s ever spoken to in the White House.

Trump has latched onto the oxymoronic, zero-sense claim that the country is being taken over by “left-wing fascism.” Anyone who knows what fascism is has no problem recognizing this projection by Mango Mussolini, the aspiring authoritarian dictator.

He calls peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters “angry mobs” while his supporters are the ones armed to the teeth, carrying flaming torches and screaming Nazi slogans while wearing swastikas and Confederate flags, the emblem of Southern treason.

I watched the entire Rushmore speech closely for signs of Trump’s continuing mental meltdown, and they’re there. This is video of the whole speech, but I’m providing a run-down of highlights so you can spot-check me as you wish. The last 10 minutes devolves into campaign rally babble…

Trump was lucky the wind blew in the direction of his comb-over, or he’d have looked like a fat bald orange clown with a dead ferret flapping from his head.

One symptom is tongue-thrusting, which Trump has done for a while. I captured this moderate example at 19:27…

This could be orofacial or tardive dyskinesia. Brief description from the ScienceDirect site:

“In orofacial or tardive dyskinesia bizarre movements are limited to the mouth, face, jaw, and tongue. This movement includes grimacing, pursing of the mouth and lips, and writhing of the tongue.”

Trump’s lip-pursing actually came first, so pronounced that it’s integral to any comedian doing a Trump caricature. Here’s Alec Baldwin on SNL

I allowed for what seemed like normal lip-wetting, and got bored and let some pass, but I noticed tongue-thrusts at: 5:30, 12:46, 13:04, 14:18, 15:03, 16:09, 17:23, 17:44, 18:04, 19:27, 20:27, 25:23, 25:38, 26:40, 29:14, 32:05, 32:25, 35:00, 35:19, 39:19 and 40:17.

Next, the words he botched:

7:42 – totalitarianism (Jennifer Rubin titled a column about his “Toe-tally-terry-tism” speech in the Washington Post).

8:09 – liberty (libbity).

11:48 – Ulysses S. Grant (Ulyssius), repeats the same at 35:18. He’s either unfamiliar with Grant or never learned how to sound out his first name.

16:45 – Thomas Jefferson (Jefferso–), he spasms, his right shoulder jerks, he winces and can’t finish “Jefferson.” This is worth watching live…

17:52 – architect (architehhhct), slurs while turning his head.

19:14 – Trump jerks again and appears to lose the train of the Lincoln story he’s reciting. He probably misreads what he says about the Homestead Act because he makes no sense.

20:15 – Antietam (Anteeum), slurs and seems to have no comprehension of the word.

30:45 – Amendment (Amend–), seems to mouth the last syllable, but silently.

21:38 – towering (tower–), drops last syllable.

22:51 – Nobel (Noble), referring to the Nobel Prize.

23:09 – untamed (untam–), drops last syllable.

28:46 – dissolve (slurs)

32:32 – forefathers (slurs)

38:41 – Garden (Gard–), again dropping the last syllable, he announces his new monument garden to sound like “National Guard” and the audience seems momentarily confused.

And here are a few nonsensical phrases he probably read wrong…

“We will never let them rip our heroes from our monuments, or from our hearts.” (29:28) (Without the hero, there’s no monument, so how can they be separated?)

“Our legacy will be… the champions we forged…” (40:44)

This isn’t everything that was wrong with the Mount Rushmore speech, but it’s more than enough.

BONUS: Randy Rainbow worked at lightning speed to put out his latest Trump take-down…

 


Chapter 99: COVID Chronicles

July 5, 2020

By Karen

Day 116

Kitties Hate Fireworks & Catching Up on Movies

Last night, Roc and Tony were jumpy during the barrage of July 4 fireworks, celebratory 2nd Amendment gunfire and explosives that went off mainly between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. We felt some big booms quite close to the house, but I couldn’t see who was behind them. Through the trees, I did catch a bit of the fireworks, but I have no idea who put on that show.

This was really Tony’s first Independence Day. Last year, he was a tiny four-week-old kitten fighting to survive.

I was just refreshing on Tony’s roots in his paperwork, and discovered a freaky coincidence. It appears Tony and Roc are both alumni of the Happy Tails rescue in Abingdon, which is in the western corner of Virginia. The Richmond Animal League takes in animals from shelters that euthanize or do fewer adoptions so the little guys have a better shot at finding a forever home. So, Tony and Roc took exactly the same path to find me.

When movies are released and I don’t get to the cinema, I put them on a watch list and check periodically to see if they’ve made it to TV. I just caught two.

The first was A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, with Ton Hanks wonderfully channeling the gentle spirit of Mr. Rogers…

His co-star is Matthew Rhys (The Americans), who starts out as a cynical investigative journalist who initially resents being assigned a 400-word magazine fluff piece on Rogers. He morphs it into a 10,000-word cover story, and the friendship with Mr. Rogers that develops changes his outlook.

As a kid, I preferred Captain Kangaroo and Romper Room to Mr. Rogers. But after seeing this movie, I regret it. After you watch, you’ll feel better about the world — until the next time Trump opens his mouth.

Aside: I’m watching Matthew Rhys in an HBO prequel/remake of Perry Mason. Here, Perry is a seedy private investigator working a baby kidnapping and murder case. I find Rys convincing, but after two episodes, I don’t see how or why anyone felt compelled to call him Perry Mason, nor how he’ll make the leap from grubby PI to slick  attorney. He gets his clean ties off stiffs in the city morgue.

The other movie that blew me away was The Good Liar, with Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen. They “randomly” meet through online dating and it’s immediately revealed that McKellen is a swindler who’ll con anyone for a buck. His partner in crime is, of all people, Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey (Jim Carter).

When McKellen determines that Mirren is a well-off widow, he plays on her sympathy until she invites him to stay in her house as her companion.

As his and Carson’s scheme to clean her out gains momentum, you’re rooting for Mirren, hoping she’s really the better liar and figures out a way to save herself. But the ending has a twist I didn’t see coming. It was mind-blowing, yet satisfying. No spoilers here.


Chapter 98: COVID Chronicles

July 4, 2020

By Karen

Day 115

Independence Day’s a Dud & Amazon Solves 28-Year-Old Norwegian Puzzle

I didn’t go to my parents’ cookout. I don’t know if they still had one, or if I ruined it. My sister was invited, so my guess is they did get together for lunch. Probably a quick one — on holidays Sis and her boyfriend usually have other obligations — so they weren’t together for too long. That will be their justification that it was all fine and I’m a bitch.

Meanwhile, on American Independence Day, I’m all Norwegian, or norsk, as they say. I’ve stuck with Duolingo. Initially, I was whipping through lessons so fast that I temporarily achieved Duolingo’s highest status, Diamond League.

But I had covered too much and I stopped retaining most of it, so I went back to Lesson 1. That’s when I discovered each lesson has four levels with lots of repetition and drilling, which was exactly what I needed. I also found grammar explanations and vocabulary lists. So, now I’m building a better foundation. However, Duolingo still makes you question your comprehension with nonsense like…

Nei, gitaren min gråter ikke.
(No, my guitar is not weeping.)

And…

Den fulle fyren kastet en hamburger på meg!
(That drunk guy threw a hamburger at me!)

And…

Katten er tre bananer lang.
(The cat is three bananas long.)

Who measures cats in bananas?

Speaking of cats, to help me remember min norsk, we’ve named that bird Roc carries around Fuglen (loosely pronounced Foolin’). It means “the bird.”

Speaking of Fuglen, he may be plotting something. This morning I found this shady gathering (mouse, Fuglen, Rowdy Rat, and Tony’s balding blue sparkle ball, which had migrated from the bedroom) on the kitchen rug…

But back to norsk. When I took up Norwegian in 1992 while dating a Norwegian, I asked him to bring me a book from home by any American author so I might buy the English edition and have the translation while I practiced reading.

He brought me Garrison Keillor’s En Rolig Uke I Lake Wobegon (A Quiet Week in Lake Wobegon), originally published in 1987, with Norwegian translation in 1988.

Here’s where it gets weird. Remember, 1992 was pre-Amazon, or really pre-online shopping anywhere. I never found that book in any store, even by comparing the first page of text, whose gist I got, with every Keillor book I came across. Since the Norwegian edition was too advanced for me, it has sat on my shelf all these years.

The other day, I pulled it out and was gobsmacked to find that I had somehow missed clearly written at the top of the copyright page: Originalens tittel: Leaving Home.

Amazon had THAT book…

Keillor wrote a much shorter foreword for the norsk edition, and some of the stories have titles as stretched as the book’s itself, but it does look like a valid translation.

So my next project is to read a whole Norwegian book. Didn’t former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg once say that’s why he learned Norwegian?

They say when you really absorb a language you stop translating it in your head. I hope that’s where I am by the time I get to Slutten (The End).


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