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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Louis L'Amour - his autobiography/memoirs

A little while ago I read Lonesome Gods by Louis L'Amour.  I liked the book somewhat, but when I got to the end of it, they had this blurb that all this crazy nutso adventure stuff was his actual life!  

I was more intrigued with this piece of information than I had been with the entire book.

I wondered if there was a biography on him to tell more of his crazy adventures, and by golly, by gee, there was.


So, I found this book called The Education of a Wandering Man .  It is his memoirs and it is crazy.  This guy's life is more fiction than fiction is.

So he begins by telling of his love for reading and saying he got his education from reading books, not through the traditional way.  He has this list of books he ticks off that he read and they are about one million zillion volumes long.  He also was a world traveller.  He started off one of his first jobs as a man on a boat, working and doing whatever the people told him to.  He went all over the world this way.  When he arrived back in the United States, he would pick up odd jobs by hopping trains and living in different places and states looking for work.  After he would save some money, he'd get on the next train and go find something else to do.

At one point he decided to be a caretaker of a mine.  It was out in the middle of nowhere, just past Death Valley.  It was about 70 miles to the next town and he got dropped off by an old man.  He said he was lonely.  Super lonely.  So he read some more books.  He wanted to write and to learn, so he was glad for the time to think, but he was still lonely for a kind of companion with whom he might be able to discuss life and literature.

As he was finishing up his job at this mine, he was instructed to get into a Model T and drive back into town.  He started her up and all was well...until about three seconds later when he ran over a huge rock and it broke the axle.

He had to WALK THROUGH DEATH VALLEY to get back to town.  He carried a can of pears and threw sand at rattlesnakes.  He had a four inch scorpion in his boots one morning.  He made it through alive to the town by some miracle after several days (he tells the story in detail in the book).  

This is where I've left off.  This guy was a man's man.  If  you want an adventure of your life while sitting in the safety of your own living room, pick this one up and shake your head in disbelief.  It's more amazing than fiction.

Keep on reading!
Ms. Daisy

Friday, June 21, 2013

Modi: part 2

So I'm almost done with Modi's biography.  Poor guy!  What a life.

Seriously, you know how artists today are just straight up mostly nutso?  Like you know how they have to dress in togas and shave half of their heads and walk around viewing life "artistically"?  Well.  Yeah.  Paris in the time of World War I (or the Great War) was pretty much filled to the top with all sorts of weirdos.  Famous artistic weirdos.

So Modi never really got in with a group.  He was always out on the fringe.  He did get along with women very well and he always treated them in a gentlemanly fashion (he was raised quite bougie).  He wanted his models to feel comfortable and he would often sing or recite poetry to them while they were in the studio and he was swigging heavy drink and painting their portraits.  

Poor Modi was a drunk.  Kinda crazy, too.  He ditched his bougie past to live like a vagabond in Paris.  His Italian family didn't really understand it and he would send postcards to his mom, whom he loved very much.

He had some love adventures.  One of the women was a writer who drove him ballistic crazy beans, she was an insane Englishwoman who used to fight wildly with him in public and in private.  No, like fight.  Yeah.  She was very sassy and together they were like fireworks.

Then he got tangled up with this woman who swore that she was having his baby (which he swore wasn't his until his dying day) - and this woman even after his death went to his family and said that the child was his (they politely refused and said any child he claimed they'd be happy to claim, too, but this one wasn't).

The last woman of his life was what he referred to as his "wife", although she wasn't technically (they never got married in a church or even had the papers done through a governmental institution), but he did write this oath that she was his wife and had witnesses sign it.  She had a baby with him, a little girl.  He was still crazy and out drinking on the town while little wifie-pants stayed home and they employed a wet nurse for the baby.

His "wife" was only 21 when she found she was pregnant with his second child.  It was when this became very turbulent.  Poor Modi got sick.  Like bad sick.

He had a horrible cough and he was coughing up blood.  His doctor misdiagnosed him and he was truly suffering from tubercular meningitis.

Amadeo's friend who was his art dealer was advised by many that since he was sick to hold all sales (until he died - which always skyrockets prices for art).  Modi was suffering badly and knew his end was at hand.

He died on Saturday, January 24 at 8:50 p.m.  His widowed "wife" stared incomprehensively.  She was nine months pregnant.  She tried to go in to deliver but they said that it wasn't time.

Two days later, she jumped out of a five story window.  His funeral was the next day, paraded through the streets of Paris, followed by Picasso, Leger, Valadon, Kisling, Salmon, Indenbaum, Zborowski and Simone Thiroux.  

Their friends said they should have a joint funeral, but since his wife's family hated his guts out and thought it was a worthless peasant, they refused.  They came and took away her body in a rush the day after his funeral and refused entry to the friends who followed in taxis to the cemetary.

His daughter was scooped up by his family and was brought up to live in Livorno, Italy.

And his paintings sold at exponential prices.

Poor Modi.  What an ending.  

Peace, love and don't drink absinthe,
Ms. Daisy

Friday, June 14, 2013

Modigliani: The Pure Bohemian (June Rose)

So yeah, you know how I was reading the Story of Tea ?  Well, since I had read it before and I was halfway through it again, I decided to check to see if it had gotten less expensive on half.com so I could adopt it into my library.  Lucky duck me, I found it on the cheapo and bought it.

Since then I have relagated it to the shelf of resource.

Aaaaand I picked up three biographies/autobiographies instead at the library to tear up.

I am up to page 85 on a very interesting one: Modigliani: The Pure Bohemian.  Dude, I love Modigliani!  Well, not love love.  But as for who I enjoy in the age of the modern artists, Modigliani is the one.

I have not read about his life before so I didn't know what to expect.  His family was Jewish and Italian and he was from Livorno.  In Livorno the Jewish people had been under a special protection (unlike elsewhere) since the time of the Medicis and were encouraged to settle there and were granted equal political rights.  He used to hear and then later repeat that his family was 'bankers to the Pope'.

He had times of illness in his youth and his mother doted on him intensely.  He was the baby of the family and she took great care and showed much concern for him.  In his sickness, he convinced his mother to let him go to art school.  Since he was a bit spoiled, she allowed it.

Eventually he grew up and was given an allowance from his family so he could try to make it in Paris.  He moved so much that people who try to piece together his history have extreme difficulty in doing so.  He kept his slightly bougie attitude in the midst of the completely impoverished artists who were his peers.  In this he stood out and was never fully part of a group.  He looked up to Picasso and Matisse.  He mixed in Paris in the time of all of those modern artists (can you even imagine Paris in that time!?).

Many of the artists were going toward cubism and futurism and swearing off nudes and the old masters.  He couldn't go there.  He wanted to be a sculptor but lacked means to get supplies to do it and on the rare occasion he got his hands on some stone, he would get into coughing fits from the dust.  A sad juxtaposition, no?

So, that's where I'm at.  Wanna read it?

Keep reading, m'dears,
Ms. Daisy

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Story of Tea, Heiss

I've just started this new book this week, The Story of Tea, by the Heisses.  I have actually read this book before (Maybe last year, maybe longer?), but it is filled with so many wonderful piles of information that you really probably should read it about fifty times.  It's like the textbook on all things tea.

And I love tea.


Fits perfectly.

I love how they incorporate so many aspects of tea - they start off with the history of tea and how it was used as currency, about how the different Chinese dynasties developed their own knack for what they wanted in tea (from actual tea leaves to the porcelains to the different tea ceremonies), how sometimes tea was totally off-limits to commoners and how special teas were for the emperor only (usually the ones that were the most delicate and the "first-plucked"), how it came to Japan, how the British developed it in India but thought it was a different species from the China bush (it isn't, it's just a different variety - in China it grows like a bush and in India it grows like a tree), how the Dutch got involved, how the Americans dumped tea in the Boston harbor and went for coffee instead and so many other lovely ditties.

I prefer non-fiction to fiction, so this suits my taste (Get it?  Taste!  Ha!) just fine.

I love how they explain about how different teas are made and how they get into the "terroir" of certain teas.  They've been all over the globe tea trekking and have had tea with the monks and have visited sacred tea gardens, they've visited tea factories in China and watched small villages bring in their own harvest and hand-roll their delicate green teas.  These people know their stuff.

If you're somewhat of a tea snob, you've got to get your hands on this book.  Warning: it may increase your snobbery, but you'll be so glad it did.

This book will appeal to your senses because I guarantee that you can't really get through chapter 2 without sitting down and reading with a lovely warm glass of the elixir as your companion.  As you drink it, you'll get to wondering about its far travel to your own favorite tea cup.

And that, my fellow readers, is where I am today.  I got my copy at the library, perhaps you can find yours there too?

Happy reading and tea-ing,
Ms. Daisy