Is it irresponsible to write about anything but TRUMP? I can't get away from him. None of us can. At least with "The Apprentice," we could turn to another channel. Now he's on all our TVs – 24-7-365.
It's a tsunami of bad news: his press conference, his lies, his attacks on the press. Flynn out, Pruitt confirmed. The whole "shit sandwich" – in some form or another -- every day.
Will he be impeached, or will he be forced to resign? I'm pretty sure that he's not going to last the full four years. Not with a first month like he's had. But it's going to be a bumpy ride for the whole country on the way to disaster.
So I grasp for Good Things in the meantime and look for the beach glass in the tsunami.
I've been spending lots of time with my grandson Calder whose vocabulary and facility with language are growing every time I see him. He's now pointing to everything and demanding, "Name." He's putting together simple sentences like "I made it" and "I did it." It's thrilling to see this little boy's skills develop right before my eyes.
I started thinking back on the philosophy of language and linguistics I studied in college. Chomsky was the rage then, and I read SYNTACTIC STRUCTURES and some of his other writings. His work on language acquisition and universal grammar pre-date his now more famous political writings, but for me, he'll always be the father of modern linguistics and one of the intellectual giants of our age.
It's wonderful to watch Calder embody every child's journey from pre-verbal communication to full language acquisition. My smart little boy is going to have lots to say. I can't wait to watch him find the words to express all his deep thoughts and feelings.
Chomsky on universal grammar
Chomasky on the concept of language
Chomsky on language's great mysteries
Chomsky on education and creativity
This week, one of my favorite singers ALISON KRAUSS released her first solo album in seventeen years– "WINDY CITY" – and it's terrific. It's an album of covers of famous and semi-famous country songs, done in Alison's unique style. Her choice of songs is excellent: one of my all-time classics – "You Don't Know Me" (Alison doesn't steal the song from Ray Charles, but her version is lovely), Willie Nelson's haunting "I Never Cared For You," and TWO Brenda Lee songs.
It's not as if Alison has been inactive over the years but those other albums were with her band Union Station or Robert Plant. This is the first album with just her name on it since 1999's FORGET ABOUT IT. It's just Alison, front and center, backed by some of Nashville best and most tasteful players.
And the strange thing is, WINDY CITY just came up on my music service (Deezer) the day that it was released, and I didn't have to spend a dime. I have mixed feelings about getting this music for free – or the 0.000001 cent that Alison will receive from Deezer. How can musicians – indeed, all artists – survive with so much free or almost-free stuff on the web?
RAY CHARLES – YOU DON'T KNOW ME (live, 1964) – off-hand genius
Alison singing "Down To the River To Pray" with her band Union Station
Alison at Carnegie Hall singing Patsy Cline's "She's Got You" -- sublime
Alison singing "Ghost In This House" (one of the TG's favorite's) with full orchestra
Alison goes disco with the Jerry Douglas Band, absolutely killing with Thelma Houston's dancefloor anthem "Don't Leave Me This Way"
I saw a bobcat in our backyard! I saw it one night, silhouetted against the low-voltage lights bordering the lawn. Its outline was unmistakeable: the pointed ears, the full haunches, the stubby tail. Its smooth, fluid gait definitely belonged to a night hunter. I ran to get my phone to take a photo, but by the time I got it, the bobcat was gone. Still, it was a thrill.
I love to see wildlife in our neighborhood ... usually.
I saw Isabelle Huppert in ELLE for a second time. She might win the Best Actress Oscar over Emma Stone, and she might deserve it.
ELLE – the trailer
Isabelle Huppert – her post "winning the Golden Globes" interview
Isabelle Huppert – with Stephen Colbert
The Metropolitan Opera's live broadcast season on Sirius radio is back in full swing, and I've heard some wonderful singing: Vittorio Grigolo in Massenet's WERTHER, Pretty Yende in THE BARBER OF SEVILLE, Javier Camerena in I PURITANI, and a few others. Live opera is one of my favorite things.
The Tiny Goddess and I are going to see Grigolo in TALES OF HOFFMAN next month at the Los Angeles Opera. That should be fantastic.
Grigolo in WERTHER (from a Royal Opera House production)
Grigolo sings "E Lucevan le Stelle" from TOSCA – at the Arena in Verona
I'm making progress on my new novel WHEN I GOT OUT – slowly but surely. And, most importantly, I'm making it better.
These are small crumbs of goodness, but they are all I've got. Out of the corner of my eye, I still see Trump ... lurking.
To borrow Dorothy Parker's famous telephone greeting, "what fresh hell" does Trump have in store for us this week?