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When you turn fifty, desperate measures are called for. Which means a shopping spree. Which means books, movies and food. The only thing missing is a bottle of hooch, but I’m working on that.

Erica Jong has been in the news with her new book Fear of Dying, so I am beginning with the one that started it all (Fear of Flying). Also Portnoy’s Complaint, which makes for interesting comparisons with Jong. A few frothy novels set during the jazz age, and a popular favorite, Elizabeth Goudge’s romantic Green Dolphin Street, set in New Zealand in the mid-19th century. Finally there is The Crucible, which is coming to New York next Spring. I decided I had better read it, but I’m scared by the intensity of the tale and the horrors it represents.


I admit I buy from Amazon! It’s their two-day shipping.

Two Mr. H. movies. I am gradually watching them all (all the ones that are available, that is). In The Nativity Story, he makes a suitably menacing Herod. I avoided watching this because I was afraid he would look ridiculous in his Assurbanipal wig and beard, which the costume designers seemingly based on hokey Bible illustrations. (The real Herod would not have spent hours every morning with a curling iron.) But actually he’s kind of hot.


Publicity still from “The Nativity Story.”

Who Bombed Birmingham is a heartbreaking true story about the six Irish men who were arrested, tortured into confessing to a crime they didn’t commit, and imprisoned for 16 years. Mr. H. plays Richard McIlkenny, the gentle and devout one they called “the Bishop.” John Hurt and Martin Shaw are journalists determined to prove the men’s innocence. This dramatization and a previous documentary by Granada television played a significant role in securing the men’s release in 1991.


The only ones left on my list now are “Road to Perdition” and “Cook, Thief.”

What kind of a shopping spree would it be without a visit to the cheesemonger? Cheese connoisseurs usually don’t go for cheeses with bits of things, but I couldn’t resist the chipotle cranberry cheddar.


Lots of interesting American cheeses here, and an organic cheddar from New Zealand.

And something else I don’t normally indulge in: store-bought bakery goods. I have an oven and mixing bowls, so I usually insist on making my own. But it has to be admitted that these are sensational.


“Two Brothers brownies”: Peanut butter, original, and sea-salt caramel goodies from Heinen’s market.

I received some lovely gifts for my birthday. This is my favorite…


From the Long-Suffering Husband.