1. One measure of aging is watching Saturday Night Live. There, gradually, the allusions and jokes (and musical groups!) send you a very distinct message: You are out of it! This past week, for example, SNL began its 40th season (we've been regular watchers since season 1), and one of the first pieces was one of their bogus ads--an ad for Cialis Turnt. (Here's a link to the ad.) Now, let it be said: I know what Cialis is. (Guys my age ...) But the word turnt? I had no clue what that meant, though the audience--the young audience--members hooted with laughter throughout. All of them knew what turnt meant. Joyce and I looked at each other with dismay.
But ... I hopped on my iPhone, checked Google, and discovered, via Urban Dictionary, that turnt means this (Definition 3: The most wonderful feeling in the world. Saught [sic] after by the biggest bousses and ballas, it can only be achieved when all 5 senses are stimulated to their fullest extent. The links between these senses cause the human brain to experience supernatural side effects, thus creating, the only way to reach maximum swag.) Sad to say--the definition includes some other words I don't know.
Oh Hell. Forget it. I'm old.
2. We saw last week what was probably the late James Gandolfini's final film--The Drop. Based on a story by Dennis Lehane, it involves a small Brooklyn bar once owned by Gandolfini, who's now been forced into a subservient role by brutal local mobster Chechens. Gandolfini had few peers playing this sort of bent role (Tony Soprano, anyone?), and it was wonderful to see him one last time doing better than anyone else what he was born to do. (Here's a link to the film's trailer.) Co-stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace were superb,as well.
|Gandolfini and co-star Tom Hardy in The Drop|
3. Thursday night, my wife (Joyce), our son (Steve), and I attended a lecture by writer Paul Theroux (thi-ROO) at the University of Akron's E. J. Thomas Hall. He spoke for an hour about the changes in China since his first visit in 1980. Over and over again he talked about how, back then, he never could have predicted what's actually happened--a rapid transformation from a Third World nation to one of the most powerful and advanced in the world (at least in the urban centers). I've bought and read Theroux's books for years--back into the 1980s--and have pretty much always enjoyed his novels and travel books. He was a little--what?--herky-jerky in his delivery, long pauses, repetitions, looking for passages to read from the books he'd brought along, as if he were jet-lagged or ill-prepared (or both?). But when he finally got around to saying something, it was usually worth hearing. His conclusion: As a writer, if you tell the truth about what you see, you become prophetic.
I chatted with him very briefly as he signed a few old titles for me. I did ask him how to pronounce his name because I was pretty sure that the U of Akron provost who had introduced him had mispronounced it to rhyme with Thoreau, the Walden guy. I'd always thought it was thi-ROO, which, he confirmed, is correct. By the way, the provost also referred to the Whitebread Prize instead of the Whitbread Prize (now, since 2006, the Costa Book Awards). The Whitebread Prize--awarded by Wonder Bread! (Link to Costa site.)
Oh, like a dummy, I forgot to whip out my iPhone and take a selfie with Theroux.
4. On Friday night I watched (via Netflix DVD) the 1968 film The Swimmer, based on a great short story of the same title by John Cheever. (Here's a link to the text of the story.) Burt Lancaster plays the man who decides to "swim home" via the backyard pools of his community. (He's in swim trunks the entire time.) I thought I'd seen this film--but, no; I didn't recognize a single frame of it. It's very 60s--and dark as can be, so dark that I cannot imagine any production company today would say, "Sure. Let's release that!" The music (Marvin Hamlisch) has not aged well, but that's often true of films--and there's a small role for the young Joan Rivers playing someone totally different from her normal stage persona. Here's a link to the trailer for the film.
By the way: Lancaster looks trim and fit in the film--but not in the ripped/cut way that actors seem to feel they must now be. Looks more like ... what? ... plausible?
5, Finally ... On Friday night Joyce and I were in the drive-thru line at the Starbucks at Stow-Kent. While we were waiting, she showed me something, a wallet-sized image of Abolitionist John Brown (she's been working on a book about him for a half-dozen years). She also showed me a picture of myself ... but guess whose pic was on top?
|John Brown, home-wrecker|