Alley Cat

O’Malley left us the other night just before a filthy day, wet and dark and suitable to mourning. He was our old cat; he had just turned thirteen years old and this made him the equivalent of an old, aching man. He was aching by the end, but not for long and only a little: he became slow and without energy but also without much pain. Only the evening before he passed did he cry a little bit, but more out of confusion. He was confused but then he slept and he passed in peace, and we found him in the darkness of that filthy day. It was raining and the ground was wet but not so wet that it was not difficult to dig a hole deep into the earth. These days both my mother and I lack physical strength, and we had to call on Sonia to be our gravedigger, and she was very good in saying yes. She dug the rusty spade into the earth at the back of the wet olive grove and we stood by and watched.

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Roma at the Stensen

The charm of the black-and-white in contemporary film in my mind frequently gives way to the dribbles of cliché, echoing the cheap vulgarity of something like Sin City. Even Schindler’s List, in all its historical power, and the brutal beauty of its script, I always found was perfectly emblematic of Steven Spielberg’s somehow formula-oriented, and predictable, way of filmmaking. And yet, yesterday I watched the colorless lights and warmth of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma and I was mesmerized. It is shot in black and white, and this is immediately noticeable, but within those limitations Cuarón managed to create a breadth of heat and emotion that I found spectacular.

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The black car was hot, a furnace boiling under the canvas roof. When I had gotten between the green blades of the gate and had a moment to stop I opened the roof and let the hot air out. Before the roof was off it was a furnace but for a moment it felt good, a dry heat that toasted your body all over. Toasted bodies relieved by the chill of the slight wind. Mariana was giggling and very happy, waving at the girls sitting behind boyfriends on the motorinos at the stoplight. She would wave and say “ciao bella”, and the girl would smile, and then turn back to the boy driving and kiss him on the cheek. The girls sitting on the back of the bikes must have felt funny about this sudden stranger’s affection. They took that affection back to the familiar boys sitting in front of them. It was a hot Friday morning, and the people on the roads were smiling and baking in the sun.

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Osborne in Florence

From the marble steps, a large arm stretches out toward me and I instantly recognize him from his photo. Lawrence Osborne is a tall man, with elegant dress and a deep, warm voice. “Should I wear a jacket for this?” He asks, and we look outside, where Florence is soaking in a hard rain. He has just come from his home in Bangkok, where, in early monsoon season, the rain is worse he says. We grab a hotel umbrella and head over to the Gabinetto Vieusseux in the Palazzo Strozzi.

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Bolgher Heat

Funny to pair a wine with a moment, and pull cheeks back into a thin smile, twirling the warm blood in the glass. Twirling blood and saying “Yes, a Bolgheri is excellent with game”. It is a silly game, except maybe coming from certain guests or special aficionados, I would guess. What a word, aficionado. From Hemingway’s Fiesta, the word used to refer to bull enthusiasts at San Fermin. The narrator Jake was an aficionado, if I remember it right.

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