Thursday, September 07, 2006

Monocle de mon oncle

At Rust City Books in downtown Buffalo—the store's website is busted and there's no business card that I can scan in—I picked up a curious, agreeably elongated publication from 1963 called Monocle. I didn't even know what it was, hadn't heard of it before, but within five seconds knew I had to buy it, despite the fact that I should not buy any more printed matter ever, for the rest of my life, owing to a sudden influx of books from my now vacated office.

But take a look:

Nice, eh?

The entire issue is devoted to the CIA, not necessarily an area of interest for me, but there's something about the writing and the design that I found instantly appealing—just glimpsing a few passages and illos made it clear this was a document meriting further study. Later I saw that the editor was none other than Victor Navasky (later of The Nation). Come back for a full report later. For now I will mention one headline/byline that gave me a kick:

Hhooww ttoo bbee aa DDoouubbllee AAggeenntt

By E.C. Hobbs
By E.C. Hobbs

(That was a lot of fun to type!)

The article's epigraph is also great:

"Sometimes I feel we are both paying the same agents twice." —Nikita Khrushchev

* * *

Some other weekend highlights:

1. High Society at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake—best lyric: "Even bugs roll up in rugs for their diversion/Let's find some Persians/Let's misbehave!" (Odd side note: There's a nice version you can listen to here, but I can't find the bugs/rugs lyrics anywhere.) Another song had a Circe/controversy rhyme that I need to look up.

[In codger voice]: They don't write 'em like they used to, that's for sure!

2. Seeing a garter snake slip into the brush when I went to retrieve a lost tennis ball.

3. Watching the first five episodes of [important: do not read this title if you do not want to entertain the possibility of becoming hopelessly addicted] Dae Jang Geum, a 54-episode (-hour) historical Korean soap opera that so far is like Harry Potter meets Iron Chef—except much better than even that formula suggests. (The version we watched was on DVD, with generally excellent English subtitles.)

4. Following the accounts of local fugitive "Bucky" Phillips (splashed across the front page of the Buffalo News). Seeing choppers in the air during a walk around the trail near the university.

5. Visiting the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum on North Street—a former Christian Science church converted into a . . . somewhat bizarre exhibit space. I've never noticed this building before, and "Manuscript," "Library," and "Museum" are probably on my top 10 list of favorite words. There were tinges of Keeler on the title card, with a Masters of Atlantis vibe throughout. The current show was about...female aviation pioneers. Amelia Earhart you know; but what about Bobbi Trout? Louise Thaden? Clara Adams, "the Honored Aviatrix Who Never Piloted a Plane"?

6. Seeing a watercolor my mom painted years ago and just had framed.

7. Seeing a yellow warbler (near house) and blue heron (in Delaware Park).

8. Running into my old English teacher from high school while walking around the lake in the park with Arlo Ogg and Wife of Dizzies.

9. Reading really amazingly/embarrassingly nice things people have been saying online. (I can't link to them here—it's really too face-reddeningly embarrassing.)

10. My aunt demonstrating yoga poses, to the mystification of our guests.

11. Wearing "Crocs" around the house. (My aunt now sells them.) Very comfortable!

12. Hearing some...slowed-down, sorta jazzified version of Elvis Costello's "Human Hands" while walking in Boulevard Mall, right after talking to the Times.

13. Realizing I never threw away the Neil Young electronic album, Trans. (Am newly fascinated thanks to this post from Geeta.)

14. Riding bikes with my dad, morning after heavy rain. Remembering how riding around "islands" used to bring to mind the image of a boa constrictor swallowing its prey whole. This takes us back to #2.


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