More Wit

October 2nd, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

A few weeks ago, HG discoursed on the subject of wit (lots of funny around but little wit) and gave some pithy (if familiar) examples. Here are two more, utterances, both by English writers. W. Somerset Maugham, who lived to be very old, was honored at a dinner celebrating one of his numerous birthdays. Maugham, like King George VI, was a lifelong stammerer. At this dinner, he arose to respond to praise.”There are consolations in growing old,” he said. Then, to the discomfort of the audience, he began to stammer for a number of minutes. When the stammer ended, he said: “I’ve been trying to think of one.” Brought down the house. At a significant literary dinner in London, distinguished writers were each assigned a topic and asked to speak on it. The topic given to George Bernard Shaw was “Sex.” Shaw arose. Bowed to his audience and said: “It gives me great pleasure.” Then he sat down. Five words. Best speech of the night.


The Incomparable Max

August 16th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Does anyone read the works of Max Beerbohm anymore? Or look (with amusement) at his brilliant caricatures? HG has been a lifelong fan of this adroit and elegant personality, an English dandy of the Edwardian era. Dead for some 57 years, his prose (described as “lapidary” by one critic) still sparkles. As rain lashed Prince Edward Island, HG found solace sipping locally distilled pastis from the Myriad View Distillery and reading Mainly On the Air, a collection of Sir Max’s BBC radio broadcasts and essays. What is magical about this collection is that Beerbohm writes about forgotten writers, obscure playwrights, antique music hall songs and performers and makes HG smile in remembrance of a life HG never lived. There are wonderful archaic phrases and English words that have withered from disuse. Max makes them live again. George Bernard Shaw called him “The Incomparable Max.” Very apt. Beerbohm, during his lifetime, published many books of prose, fiction and dramatic criticism as well as volumes of caricatures. A nice introduction to his work and character is the charming book, Portrait of Max, by S.N. Behrman, a collection of articles Behrman did for The New Yorker Magazine.


The Triumph of BSK Vegetables

March 11th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

“Eat your vegetables!!” “Finish your brocoli — or no dessert!!” “Eat them — they’re good for you!!” Yes, as children, we were all subject to threats, pleadings and promises regarding vegetables. And, naturally, this has led to resistance. What didn’t come across was the fact that vegetables, if treated properly, are very tasty and worthy companions to good red wine. Witness the roasted vegetable platter prepared this week by life companion BSK. Neither a doctrinaire vegetarian nor a rigid health nut, BSK nonetheless glories in vegetables and treats them imaginatively and with dignity. For the vegetable dinner, BSK filled a baking pan with cauliflower florets, slices of red pepper, radishes,fennel slices, chick peas, chunks of turnip and carrot, Brussel sprouts. This colorful melange got a nice dousing of garlic infused olive oil plus a sprinkling of ground pepper, kosher salt and Goya Adobo. For crunch, BSK topped the vegetables with some finely chopped pancetta (a bow to HG’s infatuation with Italian piggy products). Into a 375 degree oven. Roasted into levels of crisp and unctuous. BSK also cooked some quinoa with onions and mushrooms in chicken stock. This was the centerpiece of the vegetable extravaganza. A companion was a very big bowl of Greek yogurt enriched with oil, garlic, Tsatziki spices, some preserved lemon and piquant Spanish smoked paprika. Adding a Middle Eastern touch was a small dish of harissa. Delicious. Some worthy folks like George Bernard Shaw and I.B. Singer were dedicated vegetarians. HG doubts they ever tasted anything as good as BSK’s creation even with the pancetta and chicken broth eliminated.

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