Went to pump my tires this morning. I have little lights screwed to the valaves- skulls, actually, but they light up nicely. Started to unscrew the skull from the rear wheel and it wouldn't unscrew. Turned harder and heard a sighing noise. Had broken the valve clean from the tube. Walked it to the bike shop two blocks away and miraculously the guy was able to fix it right away. Rode back home and clearly didn't use my brakes, because when I was tooling off to shop later the brakes didn't catch. Took it back to the shop and asked if he could tighten the brake up. Which he did, or tried to do, but said it was hard to get at the brake mechanism with my carrier in the way. The boss of the bike shop had made my brakes feather-touch last fall, but assistant is not the boss. And though the boss was there, he was in a grumpy mood and not inclined to help. (Boss has a very on-and-off again relation to reality.) So I must haul on the brakes if I want to stop my bike- and of course, every other bike shop in this town can't promise anything better than 'tomorrow by six, maybe.'
Magnifico, at last. Very pro-Lorenzo, but reasonable enough as an outline of the times. I was overly-influenced by those Time-Life books with their beautiful photographs, that made the Renaissance seem a serene centre of learning and civilization in plain but elegant surroundings.
And Guidobaldo, when he made
That grammar school of courtesies
Where wit and beauty learned their trade
Upon Urbino’s windy hill,
Had sent no runners to and fro
That he might learn the shepherds’ will.
Yes, well. The Montefeltros were mercenaries. When Guidobaldo's father Federico took the town of Volterra for Florence, his troops went on a rampage and sacked the town. Federico was too busy inspecting a polyglot bible he'd discovered in a monastery to be aware of what was going on and the sack went on for hours before he could be found and informed of it.
(It's also an eye-opener how young these people died. Their grandfathers lived into their 60s, but the younger generation died of sickness in their early 40s, like Lorenzo, or mid-30s, like Guidobaldo.)
Stories Old and New, a Ming Dynasty Collection. A door-stopper from the shelf that will take as long as Magnifico, being 200 pages longer. Have read some of it randomly but now am working my way through it. Backwards, just for a change. But oh! manly Chinese men are all bumptious idiots given to adolescent antics. Hope there's a few more scholars in there.
Murakami's Hamabei no Kafuka, Kafka on the Shore in Japanese. Also a long-term undertaking, but so much easier than
Phantom Moon Brothel 4. As always, Ima Ichiko convinces me I don't know Japanese.
For day-to-day reading, Deborah Harkness' Shadow of Night, the one that takes place in the 16th century. For the Shakespeare challenge, but again, I'm betting Shakespeare will fail to show. (Maybe I should make this a Marlowe challenge?) The vampire hero is also a bumptious idiot.
Probably something to take the taste of Harkness out of my mouth, but then again, maybe the third volume in the trilogy just to be done with it.