With all this talk of the NSA and its activities, espionage has stormed back onto the front pages. Perfect time to publish a spy novel set in China, the USA and Germany, one should think, and cometh the hour, cometh the man in the form of Olen Steinhauer. That surname suggests another Nordic star but [...]
Here’s my mother’s recipe for smoked haddock, a dish that appears on the home table on Fridays. This serves four, by the way: 500g smoked haddock 1 onion 2 carrots nut of butter 1/2 cup of milk 1 tablespoon of white flour salt and pepper Preparation: Cut the haddock into four strips and dust with [...]
Everything that people admire about the Japanese: their reverence of tradition, their dedication to craft, their respect for family, their work ethic, their politeness towards customers… is captured in Jiro Dreams of Sushi, a documentary about 85-year-old sushi master Jiro Ono. Filmed in his Tokyo restaurant, it focuses on his work and his relationship with his son and successor, Yoshikazu.
With the Olympics drawing nearer by the day, interest in the host city is at a new high, which means that John Lanchester has picked the perfect time to issue his latest novel, Capital. When we first meet Usman Kamal in the book, he’s assisting his brother, Ahmed, who runs a shop at the end [...]
On this day in 1971, US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger took a phone call from the poet Allen Ginsberg. The icon of the Beat generation proposed a meeting between the Nixon administration and various peace advocates to discuss ending the Vietnam War. Snippet: Ginsberg: I am calling to request partly of Senator McCarthy… My [...]
One of the world’s greatest festivals, the Feria de abril de Sevilla, kicks off on Tuesday and runs until Sunday. There will be eating, drinking, singing, dancing of sevillanas, handsome men wearing the traje corto, beautiful women attired in the traje de gitano, horses and, especially, bulls.
In 1997, a group of Mancunian musicians who were watching the BBC drama The Singing Detective, had an epiphany when the Philip Marlowe character said that “elbow” was the most sensuous word in the English language — not for its definition, but for how it feels to say it and how it looks on the page. They immediately decided to call their band Elbow.
In 2008, Penguin Press published Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, a book on the effect of the internet on modern group dynamics by Clay Shirky, who says it’s about “what happens when people are given the tools to do things together, without needing traditional organizational structures.” The title, Here Comes Everybody, [...]
Levon Helm, the long-time drummer with The Band, died today following a long battle with throat cancer. He was 71. Helm was never more alive than on Thanksgiving Day 1976 performing “Mystery Train” with Paul Butterfield, when the Band staged a memorable farewell concert, “The Last Waltz”, in San Francisco, to mark the end of their performing career. Levon Helm and Paul Butterfield are both dead now, but their music lives on. RIP.
On this day in 2005, Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger became Benedictus PP. XVI. Fans of the scholarly Bavarian cardinal were thrilled. He was, after all, the draughtsman of the Vatican’s crackdown on liberation theology in Latin America and the perfect intellectual partner during Pope John Paul II‘s courageous challenge to the Soviet empire. And today, seven [...]