Thomas Mann on Lubeck, harems and marzipan

Now if anyone wishes to vent a little spite against me, or take a casual swipe at me, I can count on his bringing up my Lubeck origin and Lubeck marzipan. If some ill-wisher can think of nothing else, he invariably thinks of connecting me with comic marzipan and representing me as a marzipan baker. Such stuff goes by the name of literary satire. But it does not bother me . . . And I certainly do not feel in the least insulted about the marzipan. In the first place it is a very tasty confection, and in the second place it is anything but trivial; rather it is remarkable and, as I have said, mysterious. And if we examine this sweet more closely, this mixture of almonds, rosewater and sugar, the suspicion arises that it is originally oriental, a [Haremskonfekt] confection for the harem, and that in all probability the recipe for this barely digestible delicacy came to Lubeck from the Orient by way of Venice. And it turns out that those wits are not so wrong as they themselves think, that Death in Venice is really ‘marzipan’ although in a deeper sense than they ever meant it.

Thomas Mann, ‘LUBECK AS A WAY OF LIFE AND THOUGHT’ (1926)

Kim Gordon on singing, Kim Deal and cake

At the same time, I loved hanging out with Kim Deal, and when I rewatch the video [for ‘Little Trouble Girl’], my favorite part is seeing the two of us together singing and looking hot. Maybe everything always looks better twenty years later. When Kim showed up in Memphis to record the song, she had the engineer play it back into the big room, and she sang without any headphones. Then and now Kim’s voice has an incredibly cakelike quality—like the sound when you say cake, a lightness, its body thinned out—that’s so classic pop.

Kim Gordon, Girl in a Band

Donald G. Payne on benzedrine, baths and nymphos

After a while she realized she’d made a mistake: the sort of mistake that would never have occurred if she hadn’t been so tired. She tossed the calculations aside. She lit a cigarette, and noticed her hands were trembling. Christabel Barlow, she told herself, you’re damn-all use to anyone in your present state; you need a good sleep, a good meal and a new face; and then perhaps you’ll think straight instead of in ever-decreasing circles. But how can I eat and sleep, she thought, when so much is at stake and time’s running out, not only for Ken and Jim but maybe for hundreds of thousands of others, all over the world? And her eyes strayed to the top drawer of her desk and the little tube of tablets which she’d already delved into twice. I know, she thought, I’ll be like the nymphos in the pulp magazines: I’ll have a benzedrine and a bath.

Donald G. Payne, Flight of the Bat (1963)

Pat Cash on Wimbledon and tennis balls

The ITF needs to do something to help the volley because, at the moment, it has died. The attacker has no chance. Pat Rafter or me, at our best, would get smashed out there. The balls they use here are soft and they fluff up after three games. After a few games it’s almost impossible to hit a volley for a winner. They should just take the US Open ball – end of problem and it would be a much fairer tournament. It’s almost impossible for the volleyer to exist in the game of tennis. Something has to change. You can’t have a slow court and slow ball, coupled with the string technology which means the ball is coming off the strings quicker and with more spin. The rallies are going longer, there’s more injuries because of the longer rallies and nobody has done anything about it. You see all the injuries that the guys and also the women are suffering on hardcourt as a result of that. There’s three issues that we’ve seen develop in tennis that’s restricted the volley and therefore the variety of the game. One’s the strings, another is the pace of the court and the other is the ball. The US Open have a fastcourt, similar to here, but with a faster ball. They also have a women’s ball and a men’s ball. The men’s ball is slower than the women’s which is quite often why you see Venus Williams serving almost as fast as the men. But the men’s ball at the US Open is significantly faster than here. To me, the way to fix it is obvious – just take the US Open ball.

Pat Cash

Kevin Rudd on Sweden and his poor Swedish language skills

Jag är glad över att vara tillbaka i [Sverige]. Ett land som jag länge beundrat, och där min karriär som diplomat började för nästan trettio år sedan. Australien och Sverige har en lång gemensam historia. Faktum är att Australien kude ha blivit svenskt. Gustav den tredje gav order om en svensk bosättning i Västra Australien i November sjuttonhundraåttiosex, två år innan brittiska skepp anlände för första gången. Men kungens plan stoppades av krigsutbrottet med Ryssland nästkommande år. Så mitt modermål är inte svenska, utan engelska. Och efter trettio år är min svenska inget vidare.

Kevin Rudd, at SIPRI (May 2011)