Friday finds

Berlin WallEven if you’re too young to remember the thrill that ran along the world’s spine when the obscenity of the Berlin Wall was finally erased, you’ll get a lump in your throat reading this piece about the wall, and this reaction to the piece. The picture above, which shows East German soldier Conrad Schumann vaulting over the barbed wire barrier that was the first phase of the wall’s construction in 1961, is one of the most enduring images of the Cold War, but you may be surprised to learn of Schumann’s life after that glorious moment.

Agatha Christie fans who need to develop their upper-body strength can go for the burn with this one-volume edition of the complete tales of Miss Marple, which gathers 12 novels and 22 short stories into a mere 4,032 pages. At a thousand pounds — that’s its price, not its weight — this limited-edition tome will make the mystery fan in your life into a championship arm wrestler. 

W.H. Auden — documentary filmmaker? To say nothing of department store Father Christmas? 

How a forgotten mystery novel by science fiction writer Roger Zelazny came to light.

A trip to Concord. You know — where the grapes come from.

My favorite Manny’s moment of all time was the day I cut school in the middle of the week and walked in and, to my disbelief, saw my HERO, Pete Townshend standing at the back counter talking to Henry. It was the first time I’d ever seen him anywhere other than onstage . . . It’s unimaginative cliché, but, I felt like I was in a dream as I walked up to Pete and Henry . . . just in time to hear, with my own ears, Pete ordering (and this IS verbatim . . . my brain RECORDED it!) . . . ’10 Telecasters, 15 Stratocasters, 5 Jazzmasters, 5 Jaguars, 5 of those Corals, 3 Gibson Stereo 355s . . . ‘ Henry is scribbling furiously, looks up and says, ‘You really ought to try the Gibson SG Special, Pete. It’s the best buy out there.’ Pete chuckled ruefully. . .’ Okay, Henry…spend MORE of my money, three of them too then . . .’ (About two and a half years later, Pete would throw me an SG Special from the stage of The Metropolitan Opera House).”

The foreign language you haven’t learned may in fact be your own

Feeling a little burned by that new Bob Dylan disc? How about downloading some Basement Tapes instead? And while Dylan authority Michael Gray has not yet held forth on the new disc, the auspices aren’t very good

So, one of the key intellectual influences on the development of modern conservatism was . . . a comic strip. Why am I not surprised?

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said is the next Philip K. Dick novel up for a film adaptation. I’m already on record as having been underwhelmed by Richard Linklater’s version of A Scanner Darkly, so let’s see how this one comes out.

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