Sunday, February 22, 2015
Sunday Sundries, 38
1. Joyce and I, married late in 1969, were SNL fans from the beginning. In the days before video recording was widely available, we stayed up late on Saturday nights to watch the Not Ready for Prime Time Players (Gilda, Chevy, Garrett, et al.) and loved the show--if not every skit (later in the 1.5-hour production there were usually some ... losers). When we became parents (summer 1972), we were often too tired to make it all the way through, but VHS and DVR eventually changed all that. We still watch SNL regularly--via DVR, usually over a two-day period.
So, of course, we watched the 40th anniversary special last week (via DVR over four viewings! it was long--3.5 hours), and we were both very moved throughout. Yes, there were some doggy moments, but it was live (most of it), and, well, stuff happens. The one moment I wished they'd showed again: that wonderful dance between Gilda Radner and Steve Martin to "Dancing in the Dark."
2. This week I finished reading The Quick (debut novel by Lauren Owen, 2014), a novel that earned some very strong reviews and blurbs. Among the latter, this one from Hilary Mantel: "A sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre ... As soon as you have breathed with relief, much worse horrors begin. It's a skillful, assured performance, and it's hard to believe it is a first novel."
It's a vampire novel ("the quick" = "the living"), and I wasn't as thrilled with it as HM. I felt it needed another journey through the typewriter, although, of course, there ain't no more typewriters. Another cutting and sharpening, though? Definitely. I did admire some moments, some of the characters she created.
3. This week I ordered our season tickets for the Great Lakes Theater Festival next year--always a very hopeful thing to do (at my age). (We do the same thing with the Stratford Festival in Canada--buying many months before the shows.) They're doing Lear and Love's Labour's Lost (one of my favorites) at the GLTF next year--I just hope they don't modernize the language at they did with this year's Merry Wives of Windsor, alterations so egregious (in my view) we headed home at intermission. Sure, set the Bard's plays in any time and place you want--but, geez, don't add trendy dialogue and current cultural references. If I want that, I'll turn on the TV.
4. This week I also finished Joyce Carol Oates' most recent novel, The Sacrifice, a story based on the controversial Tawana Brawley rape case in 1987. (Brawley was 15 at the time.) Oates' is a dark, dark novel about poverty and greed and celebrity and mass media and so much else.Throughout, she gradually lets us know about the veracity of her young woman (Sybilla)--but I'll not tell you where Oates lands her narrative helicopter.
5. Both Joyce and I loved Kingsman, the new film with Colin Firth as a James Bondy character. There were many allusions to other Bond films (even to Get Smart), and the playfulness was what was most appealing. The violence is graphic but, oddly, funny--sometimes very funny. I saw the first Bond film (Dr. No) at Hiram College and was immediately hooked (I've seen them all, multiple times)--and Kingsman brought so much of it back.
6. Finally, a former Harmon School/Aurora High School student--Cori McCarthy--is now a writer. Her 2nd novel, Breaking Sky, is just out (I've ordered it!), and she's at work on a 3rd novel. On Facebook the other day she said that she's going to have a scene at Geauga Lake Park (RIP) and solicited memories from her Fb friends. Well, here's one, Cori ...
At the end of my 8th grade year in the Hiram School, a group of us went to Geauga Lake to celebrate. It was June 1958. I don't remember a lot about the rides (other than the roller coaster, which scared the hell out of me--a terror I barely concealed from my coevals), but what I do remember was seeing a couple of high-school lads (from some other school) in the most ferocious fistfight I'd even seen (I've still not seen a worse one). No one was blocking anything, and blood was literally flying from the face of each guy as punches landed. A circle of "fans," of course, had formed around them (reminding me of the dogfight between Buck and Spitz in The Call of the Wild). I don't remember how it ended, but I do remember this: I was terrified that it would somehow escalate, that other, satellite fights would break out, that some behemoth would take a look at me, see an easy opportunity, and knock me into Next Week. And so I hurried away in search of cotton candy.