Time to revisit an old classic.

You just can’t beat the Natural History Museum

IMG_4189 IMG_4190 IMG_4187

A funny book

photo 1

I recommend this book.  Elif decides to get a Ph.D in Russian literature — this is her memoir of what happened next.

photo 2

photo 3

photo 4

(full disclosure: after I read the book I became pals with the author; she introduced me to many of Istanbul’s best cats:) 


Astronaut Scott Carpenter


“The Loner Who Found Himself New Hero For Orbit”

Who drew that X on his head?

IMG_5646From his Guardian obituary:

He described the combination of weightlessness and the view of “Mother Earth” as an “addictive combination of the senses.

“Conquering of fear is one of life’s greatest pleasures and it can be done a lot of different places,” Carpenter said.


Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch is, in person, charming. Everyone agrees. You get a glimpse of this in the account of working for him written by Philip Townsend, who was his butler in London during the 1980s. (Townsend had a dog who died, and whom he kept in Murdoch’s freezer.) When Murdoch made the switch to living more healthily – influenced by the fact that his father died at 67 – he did so by announcing to his butler: ‘Phil, I’m into yin and yang and all that shit.’

here, from an amazing profile by the great John Lanchester, England’s Michael Lewis.

Been meaning to write for awhile now (will get to) Rupert Murdoch’s parents. Before you talk shit about Rupert Murdoch, Rupert as Mr. Burns, consider that in his head he probably remembers himself as the scared child of two of the toughest, most badass Australians who ever lived.

Rupert’s dad — like, his actual father* — was one of the most powerful forces influencing the 1919 Versailles Conference.  Like: his dad was in on the end of World War I.

Every Helytimes reader should devour this book by the great Margaret MacMillan:

If you want to understand Iraq, say, or Palestine?  Start here.  Learn about how Ho Chi Minh desperately sought a meeting with Woodrow Wilson about the French Indochina/Vietnam situation (no luck).

(I read this book.  Still don’t know anything.)

(disclosure: I am a subcontractor/essentially employee of Rupert Murdoch)

* In 1927 he [Keith Murdoch] saw a photograph of an attractive 18-year-old débutante, Elisabeth Joy Greene, in Table Talk magazine, and arranged for a friend to introduce him. [Keith Murdoch was, at that time, 42.  Elisabeth is Rupert’s mom.  She died two years ago in 2012.]

75 million people


That’s how many people speak Telugu, a language I hadn’t heard of until yesterday when correspondent J-Mac sent us this gem from his vast readings, with the following commentary:

Presented without commentary.

IMG_1233Thanks J-Mac!  Among the speakers of Telugu, Wikipedia tells me, are the Sri Lankan Gypsy people:

They make their living by fortune telling, snake charming and using monkeys and dogs in performances.

India: interesting.


Now here is a lady.

Kate McGarrigle.

Her ex-father-in-law was Loudon Wainwright, Jr.:

Wainwright joined the staff of Life magazine and worked in a variety of positions over the years, including covering the Mercury astronauts. He and John Glenn listened to the inauguration speech of John F. Kennedy while riding in Glenn’s car in 1961.

John and Mrs. Glenn:

(from Lily Koppel’s extremely rad blog for her book for her (presumably) rad book The Astronaut Wives Club:

Buying that immediately.  Check out the postcard she has up there now.

Loudon’s son and Kate’s ex of course is Loudon III:

The old Australian Crawl.

Happy Bastille Day!

In his later years [Jean-Pierre] Houël published two illustrated treatises on elephants. Drawings of other animals suggest he was preparing to publish further zoological works; however, his death at the age of seventy-eight cut short his plans.