Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 195


1. AOTW: No one really stood out this week--on land, sea, air--so I will present the award to the default winner: me. I do AOTW-worthy things every week--might as well reap the benefit!

2. A sad day yesterday. I drove over to Amherst, Ohio, for the burial ceremony for a former student who'd been in my first class at Aurora Middle School--7th grade, 1966-67. His name was Dave Prittie--and he was a wonder. Artist, scholar, writer, singer, actor--he could do it all. He helped found the Aurora Youth Theater with his BF at the time, John Mlinek (whom I also taught my first year), and these two gifted young men wrote plays together, made films. Off they went to Kent State, where I saw them both in Hamlet--John in the title role, Dave as Laertes. After graduation, their roads diverged. Dave went to Yale Drama School, then to New York, where he continued his career in theater and in commercial art.  I have so many fond memories of Dave--and of his siblings (whom I saw yesterday for the first time in nearly half a century). His absence is an irreparable tear in the fabric of the world.

Here's a link to a tribute to Dave from the Flea Theater in NYC, a theater he helped establish.

3. I finished two books this week.

     - The first was by Ken Bruen, author of a series about Jack Taylor, a rough PI in Galway, Ireland. (There was a TV series about him, too--which we streamed--which I loved.) I'm reading the books now in the order that he wrote them, and this one is The Devil (2010), a novel that's more allegorical, I think, than the previous ones. Taylor--who battles alcohol addiction and a number of other demons--encounters what appears to be the Big Guy in this one--the Real Demon--the Devil (see title!).



So grotesque deaths occur; Taylor resolves to remedy them; and ... ? Guess what?

These books are fun to read (if a bit wrenching at times), and Taylor is a literate narrator (he loves to read). Interesting here to see his "demon battle" become almost apocalyptic.

I've already got Headstone (2011), the next one, ready to go on my trusty Kindle!

     - I recently read Rachel Kushner's most recent novel--The Mars Room (2018)--and was so impressed with this two-time nominee for the National Book Award that I resolved to read her earlier books, in order. And so this past week I read her first novel, Telex from Cuba (2008), a novel whose setting (Cuba in the late 50s as Battista is falling, Castro is rising) is based somewhat on Kushner's own mother's experiences of living in an American enclave in Cuba at the time.


The book is a dazzler. Firmly grounded in Caribbean history, the story shifts points-of-view (and even narrators) throughout--from young American kids growing up there to a mercenary Frenchman who becomes enchanted with an exotic dancer named ... Rachel K!

Years go by, too--and we also get glimpses of Hemingway in Cuba--some mention of Sartre, too. And--a funny look at Fidel Castro's sex life.

It was hard for me to believe that this grounded, clever (okay, brilliant) novel was Kushner's first time out. Can't wait to read the subsequent ones. (As I write, The Flamethrowers (2013) is on the way!)

4. Didn't go to a movie this week--but we learned from a friend that Endeavour (a favorite!) is back on PBS, so I fired up our PBS app and watched the 1st episode last night.


5. Later this afternoon, I'll be driving over to Welshfield for my 56th high school reunion: Hiram High School, 1962. The school itself is long gone (there's a new park there now on the site), but memories? Never! (Pic is of HHS, 1961.) Fifty-six years ... impossible ...


6. Last word: A word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from Oxford English Dictionary


boation, n. (boh-A-shun) bellowing, roaring; a loud bellowing noise. (arch. and rare after early 18th cent.)
Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymons: Latin boation-, boatio.
Etymology: <  post-classical Latin boation-, boatio (1629 or earlier) <  classical Latin boāt-, past participial stem of boāre to bellow ( <  ancient Greek βοᾶν to shout, roar, of uncertain origin) + - -ion suffix1.

1646  Sir T. Browne Pseudodoxia Epidemica  iii. xxvii. 142 Whether the large perforations..may not much assist this mugiency or boation.
1663  J. Heath Chron. Late Intestine War  iv. 812 The Thunder intermitting, as if it staid to receive and answer the reciprocated and ecchoed Boation and clashes of the Guns.
1713  W. Derham Physico-theol.  iv. iii. 134 To send their Mind at great Distances, in a short time, in loud Boations.
1844  S. K. Hoshour Lett. to Esq. Pedant  xi. 33 Lachrymations and boations became ubiquitous.

1989 Advertising Age(Nexis) 17 July 52 Bo is a bolide, a brilliant shooting star, making a boation, a thunderous noise.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 194


Just a wee reminder: I've not been posting here often because I'm trying to finish Frankenstein Sundae (my memoir about chasing Mary Shelley around for a couple of decades). I think I'm now editing the final draft. I say I think because, well, I thought the previous draft was the final one! Anyway, if all goes well, I should be ready to upload it to Kindle Direct in a couple of weeks, and then I can get back to annoying you almost every day on this site.

Also--I've been trying to keep Sunday Sundries going each week, but last week, I felt yucky and ended up taking an afternoon-long nap instead!

1.AOTW: This week, this one was easy! Joyce and I were going down an entrance ramp onto Rt. 8 in Stow when, from behind us, the AOTW decided that she (that's right: she) could not wait another second to pass us. So ... though the entrance ramp there is short, she roared by us just as we were about to merge; other cars were zooming along Rt. 8, and it was only through some serious braking and cursing (and honking ... and, uh, gesturing) that we were able to avoid a crash. The AOTW soared on, heading, I suppose, to her AOTW Awards Banquet.

2. I finished a couple of books recently ...

     - The first was Nella Larsen's Passing, a novel from 1929 (when my mom was 10!), recently reprinted by Penguin Classics. It is the story of an African American woman who is "passing" as white, a woman married to a white racist who is unaware of his wife's background. One thing I really liked: The story travels to us through the eyes of this young woman's (Clara's) friend, Irene, who fails some very fundamental friendship tests as we arrive at the inevitable climax of this depressing tale.



Very well written, emotional. The author--Nella Larsen (1891-1964)--had a mixed racial heritage herself, and here's a link to a very clear story about her in the New York Times. She was a participant in the Harlem Renaissance.


Nella Larsen


     - The second I finished was Tyrant, 2018, a short disquisition by Shakespeare authority Stephen Greenblatt about the tyrants whom Shakespeare depicts in his plays--with focus on Henry VI (and the populist character Jack Cade), Richard III, Macbeth, Lear, Coriolanus, Caesar.


Greenblatt (who teaches at Harvard and has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award) waits until his Acknowledgements to declare what is patent throughout: He was alarmed by the 2016 election--and by what has ensued--and so he looked to Shakespeare for understanding and for remedy.

In his Coda to this short, focused book he says this--a note of some hope: "But Shakespeare believed that the tyrants and their minions would ultimately fail, brought down by their own viciousness and by a popular spirit of humanity that could be suppressed but never completely extinguished. The best chance for the recovery of collective decency lay, he thought, in the political action of ordinary citizens" (189).

Hope in the ideas and lines of the Bard, 1564-1616.

3. We saw the new documentary about Fred Rogers--Won't You Be My Neighbor?--up at the Chagrin Cinema a week ago and pretty much enjoyed it all the way through--though, for me, there were a couple of ... issues. For one: No one said anything too critical about Mr. Rogers. (He came across as a Saint ... and, who knows? Maybe he was.) For another, there was not the slightest reference to his big competition, Sesame Street.  When our son was growing up, he much preferred SS to MR, but what I always liked about Rogers is his lack of interest in high-tech stuff--just the plain, the simple, the effective. He was not all that good at doing things (except, as you'll see in the film, playing the piano!), and that was another way, I think, that he "bonded" with children--and their parents. Not intimating, that's for sure.


Now, there's one scene in the film when I almost completely lost it, almost became nothing but a puddle of tears. If you see the film, you'll know exactly which scene I mean; I will not say more--don't want to spoil it for you. I'll just add: I almost broke out sobbing aloud!

Link to film trailer.

4. We were uncomfortable in a very different way while watching the recent film (via Netflix DVD) The Birth of a Nation (2016), a film directed by and starring Nate Parker, a film that tells the story of Nat Turner, who led a brief slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831, killing a number of whites in retaliation for you-know-what. There was unease from the very beginning--watching the brutal treatment of slaves by their owners (beatings, rapes, degradation of all sorts), and, of course, the retaliation was hard to watch, too.

Nat Turner (captured and hanged) has been controversial for a long time (as has, say, John Brown, who also killed--and was also hanged--in his efforts to end slavery). But in the moral balance, here, there is no question, is there? People dragged across the ocean, chained, brutalized, forced to work in severe heat, live in squalor, separated from their families, endure beatings and rapes, etc. ... and we condemn a man who tried to fight back the only way he could?

The only real complaint I had about the film? At times it seemed a bit ... romantic? With and without a capital R. I know, I know: Love is Hope ...

But, oh, was it powerful! And so hard to watch. That voice in my head: Oh, what we humans will do to one another!

Link to film trailer.

5. Last word--a word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from The Oxford English Dictionary ... a word that was very fitting last week ...

mafted, adj.    In predicative use: oppressed or stifled, esp. by the heat; exhausted from heat, crowds, or exertion.

Forms:  18– mafted,   18 mefted.
Origin: Of uncertain origin. Perhaps formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: maft v., -ed suffix1.
Etymology:Origin uncertain. Perhaps <  maft v. + -ed suffix1, although the verb is first attested much later, and is itself of unknown origin.
 Eng. regional (north-eastern, esp. Yorkshire).
a1800  S. Pegge Suppl. Grose's Provinc. Gloss.(1814) Mafted, overpowered by heat. York.
1898 Belgravia  Apr. 529 It's that warm in here, I'm fair mafted.
a1921  R. W. S. Bishop My Moorland Patients(1922) i. 7 He was very ‘mafted and moidered’ with such a sudden plunge into city dissipation, and only too thankful to return safe and sound to his moorland eyrie.
1973  F. Horner Dunnington  x. 69 It wor her weddin day: T'oose wor that full o' kelter an fooaks Ah wor arrished an mafted, an all.

2010  @lucyinglis 24 Feb. in twitter.com(O.E.D. Archive) Dear Lord—a fur coat on the Bakerloo line, she must have been mafted.



Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 193


1. AOTW: This one is almost entirely self-evident. On Saturdays in the spring/summer/fall, Hudson hosts a farmers' market out in the Green (less than a block from our house). Yesterday morning (9-ish) I walked home from the coffee shop and found that someone had parked entirely across our driveway and had gone over to shop for some farmy food. I was in the act of talking on the phone with the cops when Joyce told me the AOTW had come back--bag full of goodies--and was driving off.
  • AOTW News: I think I need a logo for this award--something tasteful but clear. So ... interested? Send me a .jpeg, and I'll use it each week--with your name! (If there's more than one I like, I'll rotate.)
2.  Hard to express how much we're enjoying streaming the series Vera. We have been very late to the dance (the series has been around for a few years), but we are now dancing hard and fast. Such a wonderful cop show, set in Northumberland (thanks, Chris C) and starring that terrific actress Brenda Blethyn as the crusty but compassionate DCI Vera Stanhope (now filming its 9th season I see on the ever-reliable Web).

Anyway, we binged some of it but are now watching more slowly: don't want the series to end! The supporting characters are all great, too.

3. I finished two books this week ...

     - Ken Bruen's Sanctuary (2009) is in his series about Irish (Galway) "unofficial" cop Jack Taylor (who also had an eponymous series on TV--which we gobbled up). I normally read the Taylors on Kindle, for but some reason this one was not available in electronic format, so I read the actual book.


Taylor narrates the novels (I'm reading them in the order of publication), and this one deals with a series of murders in Galway, a series related to Taylor himself (someone is getting even with him for something he did in an earlier novel). Taylor is in some ways a Lone Wolf: A fallen Catholic, he is a former cop (has intransigently kept the overcoat they gave him), has a severe drinking problem, is a walking textbook on physical injuries (he tends to get hurt ... a lot), and he has no problem Going Vigilante. He is also quite literate--reads all the time (when he's not drunk or recovering from an injury or a binge).

I'll be moving on to the next one this week! (Next is The Devil, 2010.)

     - I also finished the new novel by Rachel Kushner (The Mars Room, 2018). I'd not read Kushner before--which is odd: Two of her previous novels (Telex from Cuba, 2008, and The Flamethrowers, 2013) were finalists for the National Book Award. So maybe it's time, eh?


The Mars Room is the name of a strip club/lap dancery where our principal character works--and quite successfully so. Hers has been a troubled life (to say the least): inattentive parents (dad's gone, as I recall), drugs, street life, early sex, etc. She ends up in prison for murder (nuff said), and much of the novel is set there--though Kushner whisks us away from time to time to give us the points of view of other characters--a man who teaches prisoners, her murder victim, etc.

I was, well, dazzled by the structure of this: It appears to hop all over the pond, but every lily-pad ends up being significant.

I liked it so much (though it was hardly an "upper") that I've ordered her first novel and am about to launch into you-know-what.

4. As I posted here a couple of weeks ago, I am blogging on this site less frequently than has been my wont because I'm getting ready to publish Frankenstein Sundae on Kindle Direct. Every time I think it's about ready, I realize it isn't. So ... a couple of more weeks? Then I'll get back to boring you almost every day, not just on Sunday and other other days when a bug bites, and I have to write something.

5. Last Word--a word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from Oxford English Dictionary--a word that's obsolete, but I want it back!


ingling, adj.   Dearly loved, beloved. Also: flattering, affectionate.  [OBSOLETE.]
Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: ingle v., -ing suffix1.
Etymology: Apparently < ingle v. (although this is first attested slightly later) + -ing suffix1
1595   T. Edwards Narcissus in Cephalus & Procris sig. F2   We'le take more ioy in counting ouer sorrowes, Than Venus gazing on her ingling sparrowes.
1598   E. Guilpin Skialetheia sig. A3   Insteede of Ingling termes for thy good will. Reader fall to, reade, iest, and carpe thy fill.



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

I freaked myself out yesterday ...

G. Edwin Osborn,
my maternal grandfather
I don't know why, but I was just sitting in the coffee shop, thinking about my maternal grandfather, G. Edwin Osborn. The "G" was for George--a name he never used, a name he apparently hated, a name I never heard anyone call him. Always "Edwin"--and, no, not "Ed" for short. (That was my dad's name!)

I knew my grandfather before I knew my father. When I was born--November 11, 1944--Dad was off in Europe with the U. S. Army. World War II and all. Mom, my older brother (by three years--Richard--"Dickie" at the time), and I were living in an apartment above my grandparents' place at 1609 E. Broadway Ave., in Enid, Oklahoma.

1609 E. Broadway Ave.
Enid, Oklahoma
Dickie and Danny in the snow
I don't remember when my dad came home (I was too young), but he'd been gone long enough that Dickie didn't recognize him and had to ask Mom who that "strange man" was.

Anyway, we lived with my grandparents throughout the war. A bit later, we moved a block down the street to 1709 E. Broadway.

Then ... the Korean War. And Dad returned to active duty, stationed at Amarillo AFB in the Texas Panhandle. We were there nearly two years.

Then--back to Enid we went in 1953. We bought our first house--1706 E. Elm Ave.--only a few blocks from my Osborn grandparents' place. We saw them all the time. Pretty much every day. Their phone # was 5630-J.

He had a Ph.D. from Edinburgh (yes, in Scotland) and was teaching at the Disciples of Christ seminary at Enid's Phillips University (RIP). He'd once been the minister at University Place Christian Church near the university--and there he baptized me. He wrote books about Christian worship (you can find them on ABE.)

In the summer of 1956, Dad took a job at Hiram College, and we didn't see my Osborn grandparents much after that.

Grandpa died on September 30, 1965, the fall of my senior year at Hiram College. We drove out to Columbia, Missouri, where he and Grandma had retired in a retirement community--Lenoir--established by the Disciples of Christ. When we entered their cottage, Grandma was there with some neighbors; she saw me and said, "And this is the one with the Osborn name."

And so I was. Daniel Osborn Dyer. I passed the name along to our son when he was born in 1972: Stephen Osborn Dyer.

Grandma--Alma E. Osborn--died at age 80 in 1978. She was a wonderful woman--devoted to her husband, to her children (my mom, my uncle Ronald), to her grandchildren. Bright and funny, she liked to write silly poems on special occasions ... hmmmmmm. I still have one she sent me when I got my first teaching job at the Aurora (Ohio) Middle School, fall of 1966. I hate myself for not saving them all.

When she died in May 1978, the Aurora teachers--I among them--were on strike. I left for her funeral, and when I got back, the strike was over. An odd, odd feeling for me.

Anyway, how I freaked myself out ...

As I was sitting in the coffee shop yesterday, I was thinking about Grandpa for no particular reason, and I wondered how old he was when he died of his second heart attack. I checked my Find-a-Grave app and saw that he was 68 years old.

And so I freaked.

I had always (of course) thought that Grandpa was ... old. Ancient.

He died at 68.

I am 73.



Sunday, June 17, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 192


1. AOTW: A weird one this week. We found ourselves following a car that made four turns in front of us (we made the first three as well--obviously), and not once did the AOTW remember his/her turn signal. People turning without signalling was rare when I was in my nonage; now, it's almost a surprise when someone does signal. But four times in a row? In front of the same car? Clearly, an AOTW winner!

2. We went to Kent Plaza Cinema last night to see Ocean's 8, a film neither of us was all that crazy to see--but the really good films were all up at the Cedar-Lee in Cleveland Heights, and we just didn't have the oomph to make that trip last night. So ... I've liked all the films about Danny Ocean and his criminal buds, so ... thought I'd give it a whirl. (Joyce was even less eager than I--but it's Father's Day Weekend, and, yes I played that card.)



Anyway, I thought it seemed kind of ... tired. There were a few surprises (nothing too earth-shaking), but the rip-off genre seems as if it needs to go out to pasture for a bit--or come up with some daring new twists. (It was all here, as in the past: revenge, computer nerd, pickpocket, etc.) Sandra Bullock, by the way, played the late Danny Ocean's sister, who gets out of prison on parole at the outset.

Also--and this seems weird, I know, to say about a mass-market caper film--it lacked what I guess I'll call a "moral dimension." In the earlier films, yes Ocean, et al. were criminals, but the guy/s they were ripping off were worse. Here, it was just a kind of a new way to hit the Lotto: steal some stuff from a museum (some of it was of great historical value) so that the players can go have 1% lives. I actually found it kind of gross in that regard.

Joyce mentioned that the women didn't seem to have the esprit and camaraderie of Clooney-Pitt-Damon-et al. I agree.

Still ... I didn't hate it. Had some fun. Good popcorn. Better company right beside me.

Link to film trailer.

3. I finished three books this week--two of which I'd been "picking away at" for a while.

     - The first was The Collected Poems of A. E. Housman (1940), a volume I'd picked up because I'd recently gotten interested in Housman (1859-1936) and was memorizing a few of his poems, beginning with "When I Was One-and-Twenty." a poem I'd first memorized (sort of) my senior year in high school. (I confess--I "put off" the work a little bit too long and had less that a firm grim on the thing when Quiz Time arrived.)

Anyway, when the volume came, I decided to read it all aloud to Joyce, in bed--just before Lights Out. A poem or so each night. (She read to me a few times, too.)

Housman did not publish a lot of verse (he was a Classical scholar (University College of London and, later, Cambridge), so there were only two volumes in his lifetime--A Shropshire Lad (1896) and Last Poems (1922). After he died--the cleverly titled More Poems (1936).


A number of the poems are--what?--rural in nature? Especially Shropshire Lad. But most of them are d-a-r-k, dealing with death--especially the deaths of young men (there was much speculation about Housman's sexuality). Lots of World War I poems. Young men heading off to war--not coming back. Over and over and over again--just before we went to sleep--I read to Joyce about death ... and death ... and death ... and death. It was really fun, as you can imagine!

But we finished this week, and we're already feeling lighter and brighter!

     - Early in the week, I finished the new biography of Mary Shelley: Fiona Sampson's In Search of Mary Shelley: The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein (2018), a volume that's received mostly good reviews (there was one zinger I read the other day--in the recent issue of American Scholar).

And the book is pretty good, though, as regular visitors to this site know, I'm kind of a MS freak myself and will soon publish on Kindle Direct a memoir about chasing her story for a couple of decades. So ... I didn't learn a lot factually from the book, but it was interesting to see Sampson's "take" on a number of issues. And as Janet Todd did in her Death and the Maidens (2007--a biography of Mary Wollstonecraft's other daughter, Fanny), Sampson goes after the men in the lives of these women. And deservedly so. Yes, it was an earlier era (Mary's years were 1797-1851), but even "liberal" men like Bysshe Shelley put themselves first--way out front.



With consequences--sometimes very dark ones--for the women in their lives. (Fanny committed suicide in 1816: She was 22.)

Anyway, I'm glad I read it--and have already used some of her ideas (quoted properly!) in my final draft of Frankenstein Sundae.

     - The third book I finished this week was a collection of essays (and later reflections about them) originally published by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic: We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy (2017).

Coates pulls no punches--nor should he. He chronicles the devastating effects of slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, voter-denial, segregation (in neighborhoods, housing, schooling, etc.), and on and on. He writes eloquently about the Obama presidency (and about Obama himself, whom he interviewed at length and with whom he does not always agree), and his words claw harsh truths into our skin. It's a book than can make a reader bleed. And weep.

4. "Things fall apart," Yeats wrote. In this case, "things" means, well, me. In the last couple of weeks I've learned that I will need a dental implant (my 2nd) and cataract surgery (the words blur as I type this). Looks like a summer of joy, eh?

5. Last word: A word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from Oxford English Dictionary

teemless, adj.
Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: teem v.1, -less suffix.
Etymology: < teem v.1 + -less suffix.

Barren, sterile; spec. not producing grain or fruit.

Compare teemful adj.2
Obsolete. rare.


1687   Dryden Hind & Panther i. 13   Such fiery tracks of dearth Their zeal has left, and such a teemless earth.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 191


1. AOTW: This is kind of hard to believe ... but ... the AOTW this week, though a different individual from last week's winner, performed the same stunt in virtually the same place: We were driving down into the Valley, on our way to Szalay's (farm market), when a 4x4 pulled up right behind us--inches from our bumper--and tried to urge us with his dark presence to ... speed up (we were going 40 in a 35). When I did not speed up, he tried his bright lights--on, off, on again. I stayed firm. Then--seeing a driveway into one of the national park parking lots, I turned in and he roared by. I may have caught a flash of finger. (Guess which one?) Well, wherever he was going, only one thing is certain: At his destination the AOTW Award was awaiting him.

2. Last night, Joyce and I drove over to the Kent Cinema to see Solo, the latest in the Star Wars series. I was not all that crazy to see it--but went for two main reasons: (1) our grandsons love the films--want to be able to talk with them about it; (2) we took our own son to see the original Star Wars at the very same cinema in the summer of 1977, the summer he would turn five. He loved it--still loves it--has taught his kids to love it.

Anyway, it was much better than I feared (the reviews had not been kind; the audiences have not swarmed to see it), and we both enjoyed the relationships we saw developing (e.g., young Han and Chewie). Fun to see how he acquired the Millennium Falcon, too. As some reviewers have said, the young Han (Alden Ehrenreich) does not much resemble Harrison Ford (looks, mannerisms), but I forgot about that after a while and just enjoyed the leaps into hyper-space.

Sure, there were lots of boom-booms--lots of creatures dying (including some you didn't want to die)--but, as I said, much better than we'd expected/feared. (Link to film trailer.)

2. Odd coincidence: This week I streamed/finished the final John Wayne film, The Shootist, 1976, and saw a young Ron Howard playing the adolescent boy in the tale. Howard, of course, directed Solo.

3. We hadn't realized that Elementary had re-booted for another season, so, as soon as we learned, we streamed the first episode via the CBS app, which (in our case) is a lousy app. Anyone else have problems with it? (And, yes, I've done things to try to speed it up: clearing the cache, re-booting our Amazon Fire TV, etc.)


4. I finished two books this week ...

     - The first was the next in the Longmire series by Craig Johnson, a series I'm reading on Kindle (a few "pages" at night) (a) because I'd liked the TV series (though it little resembles the novels), (b) because I'm a psycho and have to read everything in a series once I begin. (As is my wont, I'm reading them in the order of publication.)


This latest was An Obvious Fact (2016), a novel that sends Walt, his deputy Vic (Victoria) (with whom he's ... "involved"), his lifelong friend, Henry Standing Bear, to South Dakota, where Henry is in a cycle contest--and where (surprise!) death and drugs and corruption and the Feds are involved in a variety of nasty goings-on.

Had fun reading it--getting to know these characters well--and Walt's literacy is a stunner: He knows, in some cases, some very arcane facts (convenient for the storyteller!). In this way he reminds me of Jack Taylor in the Ken Bruen novels (which I'm also psycho-reading).

     - The second was a "real" book--Matthew Pearl's latest, The Dante Chamber (2018), a sequel to the novel that launched him, The Dante Club (2003), a novel about a series of murders around Boston at the time that Longfellow and some friends (Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Russell Lowell among them) were working on Longfellow's translation of Dante's Divine Comedy. The murders resemble in kind the torments Dante describes in Hell.

The Dante Chamber moves on to Purgatorio--and we are in London, where the Rossettis, Tennyson, and Robert Browning are involved in dealing with some Purgatorio-like deaths around London, 1870; soon joining them is Oliver Wendell Holmes.

A world of fun to read. I loved it when the writers would talk about their works, when their jealousies would emerge, when they struggled to figure out what was going on. And, as usual, Pearl did some prodigious research that underlies the story--and its solution.

I should add here that I've met Matthew Pearl. I was teaching American lit at Western Reserve Academy in the 2000s, and after I read The Dante Club, I knew it was perfect for the eleventh graders I was teaching: They'd read Inferno as sophomores, and they read Longfellow and Holmes with me. I knew that, reading the book, they'd feel like geniuses!

Pearl spent a day at the school on Thursday, April 8, 2004; he spoke with each of my three classes; he delivered a talk to the entire student body; he did a book-signing, etc. I took some kids with me to pick him up at Hopkins Airport (and to return him--different kids), and he was great with them--conversing intently with them the entire way. It was a thrill. Below ... some pix of him that day.




And, yes, he signed some books for me!

5: Final Word--a word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers ...

     - from dictionary.com

bacciferous [bak-sif-er-uhs] adjective
1. Botany. bearing or producing berries.
QUOTES: Bacciferous trees, are such as bear berries; as the juniper and yew-tree.
-- Charlotte Matilda Hunt, The Little World of Knowledge, 1826
ORIGIN:The English adjective bacciferous “bearing berries” comes from Latin bacca (also bāca) “fruit of a shrub or tree, nut,” a word of unknown origin. The Latin suffix -fer “carrying, bearing” is from a very widespread Proto-Indo-European root bher- “to carry,” source of Germanic (English) bear, Greek phérein “to carry, bear,” and Slavic (Polish) bierać “to carry.” Bacciferous entered English in the 17th century.




Friday, June 8, 2018

Return to Seidman Cancer Center

Seidman Cancer Center
University Hospitals
Beachwood, OH 
Yesterday it was time, once again. Joyce and I drove up to Seidman for my quarterly visit with my oncologist. We talked about my latest test results, about the future ...

Oddly, it was almost exactly thirteen years ago--on June 9, 2005--that I underwent a prostatectomy (removal of the gland) at the Cleveland Clinic. Back in early January of 2005 a biopsy had found what they thought was a mid-range cancer, and no one seemed too alarmed. Waiting till June for the surgery would be fine. (I wanted to wait until I'd finished the school year.)

But the post-op pathology told another story: a serious cancer (a 9 on the 10-point Gleason Scale)--and it was not long afterward that my real journey commenced. When my cancer numbers began to rise, I underwent 30 radiation sessions down at the Clinic in 2009. My cancer came back. By then I had decided to shift to UH (for a variety of reasons), and it was under UH direction that I began my hormone-deprivation therapy about three years ago: taking drugs that smoosh my testosterone (prostate cancer LOVES testosterone).

When my numbers began to rise again last year, I went on an additional drug.

And now--as of yesterday--my numbers are again climbing the ladder, and I am nearly ready for yet another drug--a drug that, my oncologist warned me, is very expensive. Great.

Over the past years I've had numerous MRIs, bone scans, injections; in January and February this year I underwent some immunotherapy sessions. (I wrote about them here. Not fun.)

I'm now scheduled for some more blood tests (monthly PSA tests) and bone scans in the near future, for prostate cancer loves to shift venues. And in my case, it has moved into my bones, where only these very unpleasant drugs are, for the nonce, retarding its progress.

There is no cure for me. Not now. Only ... delay.

And so I cling to Delay like a life raft, which of course, it is.

So--in all--yesterday was a discouraging day. It was a day, of course, that I knew was in my future--I had just wanted it to be a bit farther (okay, a lot farther) in front of me.

But it's not.

And so I'll do my best to cope. I will--fiercely--grab Joyce's hand, for she, as I have come to learn in our nearly forty-nine years together, will never let go. Not until that hand vanishes.