1.I had a funny (and somewhat embarrassing memory) just recently. Here goes ... Back in the spring of 1999 I was chasing Mary Shelley all over Europe. I left home on April 11 and arrived back at Cleveland Hopkins Airport on May 6. I'd been through England and Wales, Switzerland and Germany (Castle Frankenstein!), and on April 27 I was in Naples, Italy, where the Shelleys had lived for a while at the end of 1819. While they were there, they climbed Mt. Vesuvius. (As they'd arrived in Naples about 6 o'clock in the evening of December 1, Mary wrote in her journal "we see the flame of Vesuvius as we drive along" (242). And on the 16th, up they went. (I'll be writing more about this later in a Frankenstein Sundae installment.)
Well, that meant that I had to climb the mountain, too. I had done some climbing in Alaska a few years earlier (the Chilkoot Pass--see earlier posts on this site for a description of that), so I'd prepared for a hike up the mountain. I'd brought some shorts and hiking books for the task.
That morning--April 27,1999--I headed out early to catch the train to the stop nearby the starting point, and as I was walking along (and, indeed, later as I was sitting on the train), I felt Italian words bouncing off of me. (I knew very little Italian--just enough to find the right train and the restroom and the hotel.) But as I was walking (and sitting), I was realizing that Italian men were talking about me--and not in a, uh, respectful manner.
I figured out quickly what it was (I'm swift, you know?): my shorts. Fingers were pointing; men were laughing; and I realized I'd seen no other Italian men in shorts along the walk--or on the train.
I didn't need a translator, of course--not for this. And for the first time I was profoundly glad I did not know much Italian.
As I said, more about the climb in a subsequent post.
2. This week was Documentary Week with us. We finished (via Netflix) two good ones--one about Johnny Carson, the other about Robert Altman (both of these we streamed). And now we have started two others--one about Philip Roth (DVD) and another a series called Your Inner Fish, a series (streaming) based on a book I recently finished, a book about the similarities in all animals with skeletons.
3. Words-of-the-Week that I've liked recently but haven't gotten around to posting on Facebook (which is my wont):
famulous = a servant or attendant, especially of a scholar or a magician
clairaudience = the power to hear sounds said to exist beyond the reach of ordinary experience or capacity, as the voices of the dead
nostomania = an irresistible compulsion to return home; intense homesickness
bovarism = an exaggerated, especially glamorized, estimate of oneself; conceit
panivorous = subsisting on bread; bread-eating
Oxford English Dictionary
oorie = dismal, gloomy; cheerless; miserable as a result of cold, illness, etc
mogigraphia = writer's cramp
adnubliated = darkened by clouds, clouded
pauciloquent = that uses few words in speech or conversation; laconic
knavigation = a statement or story that is characteristic of a knave, esp. in being dishonest or fraudulent