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small blue square Today I'm going to quote from a 1989 book by Bill Bryson called The Lost Continent - "Travels in Small-Town America":

    Then one gray Sunday afternoon when I was about ten I was watching TV and there was a documentary on about moviemaking in Europe. One clip showed Anthony Perkins walking along some sloping city street at dusk. I don't remember now if it was Rome or Paris, but the street was cobbled and shiny with rain and Perkins was hunched deep in a trench coat and I thought: "Hey, c'est moi!" I began to read - no, I began to consume - National Geographic, with their pictures of glowing Lapps and mist-shrouded castles and ancient cities of infinite charm. From that moment, I wanted to be a European boy. I wanted to live in an apartment across from a park in the heart of a city ,and from my bedroom window look out on a crowded vista of hills and rooftops. I wanted to ride trams and understand strange languages. I wanted friends named Werner and Marco who wore short pants and played soccer in the street and owned toys made of wood. I cannot for the life of me think why. I wanted my mother to send me out to buy long loaves of bread from a shop with a wooden pretzel hanging above the entrance. I wanted to step outside my front door and be somewhere.

small green square Shopping today at Yaohan, the Japanese supermarket chain which has a branch down in Saratoga (but none in the Washington DC area - one of the reasons I'm here, not there). Bought four things:

  1. Some rice crackers - ("Osaka Mix", Orchids brand)
  2. Nori (on sale, the kind in the cubic plastic wide-mouth jars)
  3. 2 kiwis (at least theirs are ripe (but 49¢)
  4. Large bottle of sake, Ozeki brand, a half-price bargain in the double-sized bottle. This may always be on sale; since I can't taste much differences in Sake <1> I figure I can't go wrong with this choice - as freshness is everything, buying the local brew makes great sense. This stuff comes from the rice-fields near Hollister, the small California town made famous by rampaging motorcycle gangs in 1947. This the inspiration for the 1954 movie "The Wild One", with Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin.

small red square Additional shopping at Barnes & Noble - bought two books:

  1. Tokyo Sketches by Pete Hamill. A $20 Kodansha hardback for $5 - it's an unknown, but I usually find anybody's report like this interesting reading.
  2. When The Tripods Came by John Christopher. When I first came in contact with the Tripod Trilogy it was just two books - it seems like it took forever for the concluding third story to appear. This, the much newer prequel, is probably the most devastating, describing in all-to-believable detail how the alien invader uses our televisions to overpower us. I've only read this once, when it came out ten years back; I think it needs permanent residency in my collection for some future re-read.

small oramge square My own awareness/connection with things Euro was partially triggered by the general environmental descriptions I got from The White Mountains (the first book in the Trilogy, from 1967). The description of a walk through an abandoned European capital fascinated me in middle school. A few years later more intrigants - I discovered Tin-Tin comics, and other influential literature was some Hemingway, The Drifters by Michner, and Vagabonding by Ed Buryn.
I was in a fortunate time & place during my first pass through the University - it was easy then to catch great European films on campus in repertory. Some which affected my European sensitivities were "The King Of Hearts", "Slaughterhouse Five", "Going Places" and any/everything by Truffaut. Plus of course anything feeding the ever-present undercurrent of morbid curiosity about the War. By age 22 I could stand it no longer - I took my seat in an Icelandic Airways DC-8 which flew first to Reykjavik and eventually deposited me in Luxembourg. This was March, 1977 - someday soon I'll describe some anecdotes from that first trip.

small purple square I really should move there - I could - but life in the US, especially California, is so comfortable. October (next trip planned there, my seventh) is less than six months, now - soon enough.

small yellow square Also today bought a classical CD at Tower - Orchestral Suites by Bach, on the inexpensive Naxos label - it's a pleasant bit of baroque but not what I really wanted; that's actually the 1st Cello Suite. Not sure about a whole CD of cello; will instead try to borrow this one from the library.

nori - seasoned sheets of dried seaweed

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<1>Although someday I really have to follow through on the recommendations of the Green House sushi guy, who said Onigoroshi brand was his favorite - it supposedly has a melony taste (but it's expensive). Also he recommended Hakushika, which is another domestic brand, from Colorado, I believe. Back