Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New and Improved Tastebud Tart

Tastebud Tart, Molly's website, is new and improved. It has links to the recent article about her, her CDROMs, and other cool stuff about cooking!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Old Man and the Sea

Last week I finished listening to a recording of The Old Man and the Sea, the 1952 Pulitzer Prize-winning classic by Ernest Hemingway. It is, of course, a great book - if you've never read it, I heartily recommend it. The old man's struggle with the fish is captivating (and I'm not a fisherman), the friendship between the old man and the boy who helps take care of him is endearing, and the glimpses into life in pre-Castro Cuba are enlightening.

I was reminded of something I learned in junior high English class - how most novels are about man versus man, man versus nature, or man versus himself.

I recently listened to The Road, which has been compared to some of Hemingway's work, and I could hear why - the styles are quite similar. The plot moves along with just enough description to set the emotional tone. In The Road, the man and the boy are never named; in The Old Man and the Sea, the characters have names, but the story refers them almost always as The Old Man and The Boy.

Next: Something completely different: The Princess and the Goblin.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Eric Denardo

Professor Eric Denardo, a faculty member at Yale University and one of leaders in the field of operations research, was my adviser's adviser, and I had the good fortune to attend a dinner last night honoring Professor Denardo for his distinguished career as a teacher and scholar.

The dinner was at the Cosmos Club, which may sound dangerous but is actually a social club for intellectuals with a distinguished history and many famous members. The dinner, with about 50 guests, was in a rococo ballroom extravagantly decorated with mirrors and fancy light fixtures. The food was excellent, and it was wonderful to hear colleagues and former students tell stories about Professor Denardo and the impact that he had on their lives.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Silas Marner

Yesterday, on my drive to Fairfax, I finished listening to Silas Marner, by George Eliot. The novel (published in 1861) is set in England in the early 19th century (like the novels of Jane Austen) and tells the story of a weaver (Marner) who loses his friends, the love of his life, and his religious faith due to a treacherous friend. He leaves the unnamed but apparently large city where he lived for the village of Raveloe, where he settles into a solitary life as a honest, miserly weaver and soon becomes preoccupied with his ever-growing hoard of gold.

The richest family in the town has two sons whose lives intersect with the weaver's in unexpected ways. The no-good younger son, desperate for money, steals the weaver's gold. Later, the depressed weaver finds and adopts a young girl after the death of her mother (an opium addict and the secret wife of the oldest son). The weaver becomes a father and learns, with help from one of the village's moms, to care for this new treasure. The oldest son marries the exceptionally good and beautiful young lady whom he truly loves. The younger son is never seen again.

The story of these people is a fascinating tale in which the love of others brings joy to those who despair and that reminds us that those whom we love are worth more than any hoard of gold.

George Eliot is the pen name of Mary Ann (Marian) Evans, which led us one night into a discussion of famous authors who used pen names. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was the first that came to my mind. Wikipedia has a long list of pen names.