Monday, June 24, 2013
Summer Reading 2013
The rights of summer are, by definition, fleeting: the summer romance, the summer diet, the summer vacation. Only the books seem to stick. If you are looking for an enduring summer romance, a good book might be your best bet.
Here is a sample of what we will be reading this summer, along with some suggestions to our readers –
“Gettysburg, The Last Invasion” by Allen C. Guelzo – The 150th anniversary this July of the famous battle, and Rink Rats will be visiting the battlefield this summer.
“Ladies Night” by Mary Kay Andrews – This one is for the girls, Mary Kay Andrews is a good writer.
“Counterfeit Kids” by Rod Baird – For our educators, a refreshing look at our educational systems; the good and the bad.
“Home Made Summer” by Yvette van Boven – A great cook book for summer reading and summer fun.
“The Drunken Botanist” by Amy Stewart – There is hardly a greater pleasure than a slow evening stroll through a well-tended garden, drink in hand. Any gardener worth their salt, or at least the salt on the rim of a margarita, knows to thank the blue agave for their buzz.
“The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America” by Philip Caputo – From Key West to the Arctic Ocean Caputo rents a vintage Airstream trailer and takes off. He follows America’s back roads in this wonderful travel book.
“The Body in the Plaza” by Katherine Hall Page – A great crime whodunit about a couple observing their wedding anniversary in Italy.
“The Victory Season” by Robert Weintraub – The end of World War II and the birth of baseball’s golden age, Mr. Weintraub recounts the game’s joyous renewal after the war and honors the fine record of service of many of its’ players.
“The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway – The classic story of Santiago and his epic battle with the marlin and the sharks.
“From Russia With Love” by Ian Fleming – The classic and one of the most successful Bond novels.
BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Kathy Bates (65), Mel Brooks (87), Beth Elmore …she can feel her hair grow, Juli Inkster (53), Tobey Maguire (38), Leon Panetta (75), Carly Simon (68).
THE WORLD AFTER BERNANKE - "The prospect of the post-[Ben] Bernanke era raises a series of thorny questions for global markets and the United States economy as well as political players inside and outside the Beltway. There remains serious doubt that the economy and the stock market can fly on their own without extraordinary Fed assistance [see yesterday's plunge]. If the Fed bungles the transition from its current policies and the country stumbles back toward recession, it could spell big trouble for Democrats like Hillary Rodham Clinton hoping to replace Obama in 2016.
"The fact that Bernanke was often the lone operator in Washington capable of administering emergency aid to the economy during a period of Beltway gridlock is another reason market players and economists are so worried about the Fed transition. They fear that Bernanke's successor, partly due to political pressure to back off and partly due to signs the economy is picking up, will move too fast to stop buying assets, possibly tanking the stock market and reversing the recent housing market recovery."
TRYING TO REASSURE INVESTORS - "Bernanke tried to ease some of the market jitters on ... saying the Fed has no immediate plans to curtail its 'quantitative easing' program. ... But Bernanke and the Fed also said risks to the economy have 'diminished' and that the central bank plans to start dialing back the program later this year and conclude it next year as long as the unemployment rate heads down toward 7 percent. ... Bernanke used a driving analogy to explain the Fed's plan, saying it might ease up on the gas but won't hit the brakes. But market players worry whether the next Fed nominee will have the same skill behind the wheel as Bernanke."
OBAMA TRIP WRAP - Obama's Modest Goals Obscured by Conflicts on European Trip : President Obama traveled to Europe with his expectations set low. He met them. Obama and other western leaders were unable to move Russian President Vladimir Putin to take a stronger stand on Syria, and Russian officials scoffed at the U.S. president's aspirational call to cut nuclear weapons arsenals.
... The centerpiece of Obama's three-day trip was his address at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. The setting, where the Berlin Wall once stood, evoked high moments in the trans-Atlantic alliance and historic presidential declarations of U.S. moral purpose in global affairs.
REMEMBERING JAMES GANDOLFI – “A home-grown Jersey guy, Gandolfini, who died [last week] in Italy at age 51, was born in Westwood and grew up in Park Ridge (where his father used to buy tires from John Travolta's dad). ...
Gandolfini's best moments as an actor were silent ones. Look at him again in 'A Civil Action,' in which he plays the father of a family scarred by industrial pollution. Or the many scenes in 'The Sopranos,' when he was simply staring off into space, or at the TV. ... The year he won best-actor from the Television Critics Association? He sent every voter a hand-written thank-you card. ... 'I got successful at a late age, so I'm under no delusions about what all this is about,' he told me in 2001. ... Besides, he said another time, 'I grew up right where we shot all that stuff (for 'The Sopranos.') ...
"As 'The Sopranos' went on , though, and the fame and the money and the attention only grew, things got more difficult for Gandolfini. He got divorced from his first wife, in 2002. He glared at reporters on the set, and turned down most interviews. ... Clearly, for Gandolfini, 'The Sopranos' and everything that had gone with it - the notoriety, the contract negotiations, the paparazzi - had become a grind. ... Since 'The Sopranos' wrapped in 2007, he appeared in no less than 17 movies (a few of which are still to be released). Some were strong dramas - 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Down the Shore,' 'Killing Them Softly,' 'Not Fade Away' - but many more were quirky comedies. 'In the Loop.' 'Carnage.' 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.' He even did 'Where the Wild Things Are.'
U.S. ECONOMY GRINDS AHEAD - After four bumpy years, the U.S. recovery finally appears to be on a smoother road. Many economists now predict 2014 will be the best year for growth since 2005, while joblessness is expected to click below 7 percent next year ... Houses are selling again, the energy sector is booming and jobs, while not plentiful, are being created at a steady pace.
... It has been a long haul. The recovery that began in June 2009 has been painfully slow. Jobs, median household income, industrial production and home prices still haven't returned to the levels they were at before the recession. But despite the weak pace of overall growth, the recovery has proved surprisingly resilient.
The economy has absorbed a series of shocks, from tax hikes to a tsunami in Japan, without getting knocked off course or falling back into recession. And crucially, inflation remains low. ... It will take a prolonged upturn to make up ground lost during the recession, which stretched from December 2007 through June 2009. Long-term unemployment, a hallmark of the recession's toll, remains at historically high levels. The economy has been expanding, but at a 2.2 percent annual pace, below the average 3.3 percent rate of recent decades. ... Economists in the latest Wall Street Journal monthly survey expect gross domestic product to expand at a 2.3 percent annual pace this year and 2.8 percent next year.
"MAD MEN" SPOILER ALERT -- "A wakeup call heeded as 'Mad Men' season ends: In its penultimate sixth season spanning the turbulent year of 1968, this AMC drama charted [Don] Draper's downward spiral, cheating on his wife with a downstairs neighbor and wreaking havoc at the Manhattan ad agency where he used to be golden. Until now a charismatic master of pretense, Draper by season's end acknowledged what every 'Mad Men' viewer already knew: Don's fabled mojo had failed him. But he seemed prepared to take corrective action. ...
In a startling scene, Draper (series star Jon Hamm) was summoned to a meeting for some bad news: He was being sidelined at Sterling Cooper & Partners. That is, Draper was ordered to 'take some time off and regroup' ... This expulsion came after a powwow days earlier with the bosses of a possible new client, Hershey's Chocolate, where the silver-tongued Draper did what he does best: infusing the product with his own seductive myths. Don had the Hershey execs spellbound with a heart-tugging recollection of his father rewarding him with a Hershey bar for mowing the lawn. ... But then, as if suffering a crisis of conscience, he pulled a one-eighty. ... Draper revised his pitch from fantasy to truth: He was actually an orphan raised in a whorehouse, he revealed, where, trying to capture the experience of a normal kid, he would eat a Hershey bar he got from one of the girls ...
"Don's eyes moistened , his voice sank to a whisper in a scene that should clinch Hamm his long-withheld Emmy. ... 'If I had my way, you would NEVER advertise,' Draper [said]. 'And you shouldn't have someone like me telling that boy' -- every happy, normal boy with a father who loves him -- 'what a Hershey bar is. He already knows.' It was a startlingly awkward moment for the agency partners, but a galvanizing moment of truth for Don. This step toward redemption ... was likely triggered two episodes ago, when his teenage daughter Sally found him cheating on his wife. ...
Painful recognition appears to be propelling 'Mad Men' toward its final season, while leaving viewers to ponder how -- or if -- Don will patch up his marriage, his career and his relationship with Sally."
VEEP FINAL A CLASSIC – Meanwhile over at HBO the last episode of VEEP for season 2 concluded also Sunday night. In a set up for a run for the Presidency next season the VEEP and her associates were classic dysfunctional.
THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS: NHL Playoffs, Stanley Cup Finals – Chicago Black Hawks in seven. Season to date (9-7)
WORDS OF THE MONTH –
flounder \FLOUN-der\, verb:
1. to struggle clumsily or helplessly: He floundered helplessly on the first day of his new job.
2. to struggle with stumbling or plunging movements (usually followed by about, along, on, through, etc.): “He saw the Assistant Vice President floundering at the meeting.”
smart, bright; ready
Getting to know when to use ser and when estar can take a bit of practice. Listo is a good case of the difference your choice can make.” Es una chica muy lista.” “ She’s a very bright girl.”
MARKET WEEK - U.S. stock index futures signaled a lower open on Monday, as last week's global sell-off, which started when the Federal Reserve signaled it could end its asset purchases this year, continued. Concerns about tightening central bank policy were reignited on Monday when the People's Bank of China refrained from pumping cash in to the economy, despite a liquidity squeeze. The news accelerating losses on the Shanghai Composite (.SSEC), which closed at a fresh 2013 low.
DRIVING THE WEEK – U.S. Treasury markets, which saw yields hit their highest level in almost two years on Friday, face further challenges this week as they prepare to sell an extra $99bn of debt. After last week's global sell-off, markets in the U.S. will also be knocked by traders winding down for the end of the second quarter. 'One cannot reverse the Fed's big bang moment,' said George Goncalves, strategist at Nomura ... adding that the scale of foreign demand for this week's Treasury debt sales would be a crucial test of sentiment.
Next week: American education, a summer time perspective.
Until Next Monday, Adios!
June 24, 2013