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