‘I got this book for an airplane read. Sat next to the window and started in. The book had me laughing so hard that tears were pouring down my face. I did my best not to make any noise, but the woman sitting next to me thought I was distraught and in the midst of a total breakdown.’
- a reader review of Stephen King’s On Writing
Published: Jul 28, 2016
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THE WEEK IN BUTLER
The Sun and the Moon and the Rolling Stones
Heat Wave? Sunscreen! Anthelios with Mexoryl.
CONVENTION PROGRAMMING, WEEK 2: A balanced diet requires several food groups. In a week when your media diet has been heavy on politics, I’ve offered some cultural protein. Where to end? In a sea of stupid, with you being as smart as you can be.
Mental Clarity (Reader Review): A friend known for his strong opinions started taking Mental Clarity once a day. He reported back: “A number of situations have occurred — both work and play — that would have had me up the wall, but I’ve just shrugged my way through them. After one incident, I noted how unstressed (de-stressed) my reaction was. So there’s a rousing testimonial.”
Mental Clarity (Reader Review #2): “I ordered Mental Clarity when I was felled by flu and feeling sure that I’d never be able to do my nonprofit’s annual fundraising appeal nor in fact ever write anything useful ever again. There seemed to be a Black Dog factor in the brain fog, along with the sneezing & coughing. Lo, what to write came clear and the Black Dog disappeared. If the appeal goes well, I’ll have to credit your finding Mental Clarity.”
Mental Clarity (Reader Review #3): “The effect is subtle but I feel notably more alert. Somehow I just articulate and think more fluently.”
I’m reluctant to be writing about anything you put in your mouth that isn’t food. Herbal supplements aren’t regulated, and high standards depend on the conscience of the people who own those companies. If you’re the sort of person who buys these supplements and doesn’t read up on the possible side effects, you could damage your health. Or lose a baby.
Banyan is a company with considerable integrity. And I have read about the side effects of Brahmi and of Ashwaghandha, two of the more potent ingredients used in Mental Clarity. So I bought a bottle and, on the advice of my friend and guide Pamela Miles, began taking 4 pills a day. [To buy “Mental Clarity” from Amazon, click here.]
So how am I doing?
I’ve been unusually calm. I’m dealing with situations with less of the hysteria and desperation that used to afflict me when I didn’t get my way. And the main thing: The idea factory is working overtime.
I credit Brahmi, which is said to “improve capacity for attention and focus, improve the ability to withstand emotional stress, reduce nervousness and anxiety and improve immune system function.” And I credit Ashwaghandha, which is said to improve memory and “protect the brain against brain cell deterioration.” In short, I’m casting a vote for Ayurvedic medicine.
Let me urge you, before you buy anything not prescribed by a doctor, to read about the potential side effects. Consider who recommended these pills — it is possible that these they are placebos and I’m a semi-depressive who’s riding the manic curve. And think about other things you might do that get blood pumping through your head and ideas surging in your brain. For example: exercise.
If you do buy Mental Clarity, monitor any changes in your attitude and behavior. Are you buying more notebooks? Scribbling deep into the night? If so, good for you. Just remember: if any of these new ideas turn into money, you owe me some.
French women are a world unto themselves. And the women of Paris? More so. In
“Sophie the Parisian: Her dictionary of L’art de vivre,” Nathalie Peigney channels “Sophie,” who knows all things Paris and shares her knowledge as if you were her best girlfriend. The subjects of this A-Z guidebook/dictionary look like the obvious (shopping and fashion, the city and its psyche) but Peigney’s point-of-view is her own: the “art de vivre.” Champagne, seduction, the education of children — simply dressed, seemingly discreet, her Sophie explores the paradoxes of the sophisticated life. If you read it aloud, you can almost hear her accent. Which is, of course, charming. [To buy the paperback from Amazon, click here. For the Kindle edition, click here.]
You’re sitting in a beach chair with his Collected Stories— the book, not the Kindle. At your elbow, a cool drink. There’s a breeze. Time slows.
Start with the first story in the book: “Goodbye, My Brother.” It’s about a WASP family with one of those big houses on the bluffs of Nantucket. The family’s three grown sons, a daughter, a mother, various spouses and kids have assembled for a late-summer vacation. Swimming, drinking, family dinners, club dances, game nights at home: This reunion should look like a Ralph Lauren commercial. Why it doesn’t: Lawrence — the youngest brother, the one who “looks like a Puritan cleric” — has arrived.
We all know people like Lawrence, people who try “to spoil every pleasure.” We endure them because we don’t see much of them. But to share a house with Lawrence, to have your two weeks of vacation darkened by his omnipresent scowl — it drives the narrator, an otherwise mild-mannered high school teacher, to spill the blood of his blood.
Lawrence departs in a huff on a gorgeous late-summer morning — not that, from the ferry, he’d see its beauty. And the narrator? The ending of his relationship with his brother is inspiration for a final look at much more than a family drama. Here’s the last paragraph:
Oh, what can you do with a man like that? What can you do? How can you dissuade his eyes in a crowd from seeking out the cheek with acne, the infirm hand; how can you teach him to respond to the inestimable greatness of the race, the harsh surface beauty of life; how can you put his finger for him on the obdurate truths before which fear and horror are powerless? The sea that morning was iridescent and dark. My wife and my sister were swimming — Diana and Helen — and I saw their uncovered heads, black and gold in the dark water. I saw them come out and I saw that they were naked, unshy, beautiful and full of grace, and I watched the naked women walk out of the sea.
And then you start to read the next story….
Friends with a large, bright, cheerful office on a high floor have transitioned to a mostly remote staff, and now there is a windowed office where I, for one, would happily write. There are also 6 desks available, suitable for a small business or some solo acts. Your office mates would be bright, youngish, digital wordsmiths, mostly silent. Impeccable location, steps from three subway lines. And affordable. For information, write HeadButlerNYC@AOL.com
25 years ago, I wrote a documentary about Donald Trump. He huffed and puffed, and the documentary was never shown. He’d kill it again if he could. But “Trump: What’s the Deal?” is now available on iTunes. The new trailer gives you the idea right off: “The old Trump. The new Trump. The same Trump.
Obligatory Blog Roll
- Andrew Tobias
- Roughly Daily
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Charles Pierce
- James Fallows
- Dominique Browning
- Speakers in Code
- New York
- Manhattan User’s Guide
- Show Biz
- Roger Friedman
- New York Social Diary
- Designer Previews