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Archive for April, 2010

I wish the title was mine because it is great and the best line in Solar, so the credit goes to the author Ian McEwan.  The book has created a lot of review smoke but it did not warm me.  Michael Beard, the central character, is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and rodent.

Your first hope of escaping this mass of low-life comes around page 60 when it appears that he has frozen off his penis and it has dropped down his snowsuit.  Alas, it was not to be so he continues his insatiable pursuit of alcohol, food, and women.

That so many women allow him sexual access is the part that strains credulity.  It is good I am not a judge because they would find little sympathy in my court unless they justifiably defended themselves by castrating the offending male.

The reader will soon sense Michael Beard is going to add not lose weight and he will still be standing when the book has exhausted you.  There I have covered it all.

Now, in praise of the author, a lot of people like his books.  They sell.  For a person with an ordinary face, he is outstandingly photogenic.  He could be a French movie star.  Charles Marlin

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Beaver Creek at Burnt Mill Road Clarion County

Captain Loomis — Clarion   My first night in town I didn’t have money for groceries but I needed to know if I had made a mistake coming to Clarion State College so I walked downtown and into the Loomis to find the pulse of the town.  Always popular.

Joe’s — Rimersburg   My friend who speaks a little Italian and loves Rome says Joe’s has it.

This is a photographic trip around Clarion County for the places we love to meet friends and enjoy a meal where we do not have the dishes to take care of. These are the best known places in every community and without them our sense of community would be tested.

I began the series by taking a couple of river shots because those views belong collectively to all our communities. If you think I may have missed your favorite Meet And Eat place, send a comment. I picked 16 to show three at a time, but there is nothing special about the number 16. We can add more.  Charles Marlin

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The 136th running of the Kentucky Derby is upon us and you want in on the fun.  Of course you do.  You have set aside a lot of money because you already know from what you have paid out for reservations and tickets that the money will roll out in $1,000’s not $100’s, your $20’s will be good for tips only.

The good time will make it all worth while, plus if it builds your confidence so you take the leap and buy a small partnership in a horse it will open a new chapter in your life.  You will have arrived.

There remains the constant issue of the haves and have nots, excessive spending on pleasure while others suffer.  Not to worry.  I have your absolution from all Kentucky Derby guilt.  Keep in mind, however, that cheap absolution is worthless.  Plus if you don’t handle your KD guilt properly you will never step up to a part ownership of a horse.

No, you will not need to match dollar for dollar what you spend in Kentucky with what you give to the Clarion County Community Foundation.  That would be unseemly and awkward.  It will be late June before you have all your bills in, so I offer something very simple.

Before you leave for Kentucky, send a contribution to the Rare Gift Fund of the CCCF that matches dollar for dollar what you anticipate betting on the race.  There you see, clear and simple and done before you even get to the KD.

What if you should bet more than you anticipated?  A late supplemental payment will take care of that.  So now, my friend send your payment in with absolute confidence that you need feel no guilt about having a great time at a most wonderful event.  Charles Marlin

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Romain Gary, French literary light,  wrote four books under the name Emile Ajar.  One of them Hocus Bogus: Romain Gary Writing As Emile Ajar has been translated into English by David Bellos.  It is a faux-schizophrenic, delusional narrative of Emile fighting with Romain that may be skimmed but not read, so this is not a review.

Schizophrenia is the black hole of human existence.  If you want to compare the fake with the real you may need some new experience.  If you work near an open square where people and pigeons go to lunch, bag it a couple of days.  Keep your superficial kindness and chit-chat to yourself.  Eat your lunch and stay out of others’ lives, this will give you what the book can not.

For those who have family who suffer and who have remained constructively and humanely involved, I salute you.  It is not an easy thing to do.  It is a relationship burdened with so many heavy “ifs”.  If they did not look so normal.  If they would stay on their meds.  If they were not physically threatening.  If they would stay at home.  If.  If.  If.

Despite calling it a black hole, we must with deep affection say to those friends who have overpowered their “ifs” it is great to be with you as fellow pilgrims.  Each day is fresh, each mile is new, so how glum would we feel without old friends by our side?  Charles Marlin

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Understanding the history of a totalitarian regime is not difficult, but what is difficult is grasping why there is not something in our collective immune system that kills those regimes before they metastasize.  What is missing in our evolutionary development that leaves us vulnerable?  No answer, but there is one element always present in the early stage.  You may have noticed.  Men in uniforms with weapons.

Barbara Demick has written a devastating account of life, Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives In North Korea, that demonstrates without advocating that we must continue to be diplomatically and humanely assertive.  No aggression, no nation-building, no dominance, no name-calling.  A little trade.  A friendly hand.

The author is an experienced international journalist who interviewed six North Korean citizens who fled to South Korea.  The stories follow them under first Kim Il-sung, then Kim Jong-il, and finally their new lives in South Korea.  The stories are grim and the sacrifices immense but all very believable.

The book is saved from its dark subject by a grace and directness that allows no heroes and no villains.  Six ordinary people made interesting because we are allowed to observe and respond on our own.  Charles Marlin

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Clarion River at Canoe Ripple Road  Clarion County

 

Eat’n Park — Clarion     Their breakfast buffet is the best in town.

Fryburg Sportsman’s Club      Very popular but to join you need a member to vouch for you.  If you misbehave you and your sponsor are out, so that may explain why after living in Clarion County for 44 years I am still trying to get in.

This is a photographic trip around Clarion County for the places we love to meet friends and enjoy a meal where we do not have the dishes to take care of.  These are the best known places in every community and without them our sense of community would be tested.

I began the series by taking a couple of river shots because those views belong collectively to all our communities.  If you think I may have missed your favorite Meet And Eat place, send a comment.  I picked 16 to show three at a time, but there is nothing special about the number 16.  We can add more.  Charles Marlin

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