Sam Bauman: A deal and a wise read



I feel that I have been remiss in not alerting seniors to the Galaxy Fandango reward program. I learned of it at the Galaxy box office when I went to see “Sully,” the film about the pilot who landed an Airbus with 155 passengers and crew members aboard safely in the Hudson River. “Sully” is a biopic that lands squarely on the side of pilot Sully’s decision to splash down rather than try to reach Teterboro airport nearby.

The rewards program offers many benefits and you can sign up for it free at the Galaxy and online at

Once signed in you become eligible for occasional free movie tickets and snacks. You can also enjoy the Tuesday movie specials of any film showing for $6.50. You can also get alerts for special showings, such at the Sept. 21 screening of the Cold War classic comedy “Dr. Strangelove,” or “how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.” Time and cost of the special showing 11:45 a.m. and price is $8.25.

I hope to be able to provide readers with information about special showings in the future if the Galaxy lives up to its promises.

Rewards members also can take advantage of the Tuesday all day $6.50 price for films that day. That’s a nice savings from the usual $8.25 or $10 tickets.

Then there’s the video production of Metropolitan Operas on Saturday mornings starting second week of October. These are excellent showings of opera much more revealing and entertaining than seeing the operas live. The operas are not part of the rewards program and tickets are $8.

A very special book

I get many books to review, from publishers and authors. Often the books are from friends who think I would enjoy one. Such is the case with “An Unnecessary Woman,” by Rabih Alameddine (Grove Press, $16).

I’d never heard of the author but friends insisted I read it. They were so enthusiastic that they even bought me a copy so they could keep their own.

The unnecessary woman is Aaliyah, a Lebanese woman of 72 living alone in her Beirut apartment, independent, with blue hair (which she later cuts off). She’s not just part of someone else’s life; she’s the protagonist of a rich and varied life. She works at a bookstore, but her real work is the translation of English and French language books into Arabic. Not that she publishes her translations, she stores the printouts in boxes and crates in her maid’s bath and bedroom. She translates a book a year and she has been doing it for 50 years.

She was married at 15 but rapidly discarded her useless husband. She lives in the apartment they had when married and stoutly resists effort by her eldest brother to oust her.

She’s an old-time Beiruiti and loves the city as she wanders through it, during war and peace. She has little interest in the war of the 1970s between Islamic sects and the Israelis who, as she points out, bombed the only Jewish sector of Lebanon. She doesn’t think much of Israel “always showing off their bankroll.”

Aaliyah makes the most out of the war-torn city, commenting wittily and profoundly from many authors she has read, from Faulkner to Hemingway and dozens of authors I barely know of but have to look up.

(A personal aside: in the 1970s I got to Beirut to cover the fighting for the AP and Stars and Stripes European edition. I remember the main street of Beirut as the dividing line between factions well. Both sides ignored me and let me pass safely. Why I don’t know. I didn’t file much copy, I remember.)

Aaliyah sums up her own story by quoting the philosopher Pessoa (p. 107): “The only attitude worthy of a superior man is to persist in an activity he recognizes is useless, to observe a discipline he knows is sterile, and to apply certain norms of philosophical and metaphysical thought that he considers utterly inconsequential.” This attitude she applies in her own life.

Alameddine does an amazing job of empathizing with Aaliyah and making her situation, her thoughts and experiences, real. A largely self-educated woman of high intelligence — an anomaly in Beirut society due to her independence and intellect.

In the end, Aaliyah and friends rescue her many translations from a broken pipe in the maid’s room. Armed with hair dryers and irons, they battle to preserve Aaliyah’s translations, which will probably never be published.

This is a very wise and fun read. It’s loaded with aphorisms and wit, lofty and banal ideas. It’s my best read of several months and I’m about to sit down and read the entire 291 pages anew.

Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.


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