Sunday, April 5, 2015
Sunday Sundries, 45
1. AOTW: We find a parking spot close to the Kent Cinemas, where we have come to see Get Hard, a gross comedy with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. But as we are enjoying our good fortune, and as we are turning into the spot, we see that the AOTW has left a grocery cart right in the middle of the space.
2. I'm off Facebook for a while.
3. I'm still reading my way through the novels of Nobel laureate Saul Bellow--in the order that he wrote them--and it's fun to see his growth as a writer--and to see the slow infusion of humor into his prose. This week I finished his 1956 novella, Seize the Day, about a young man who's lost his job, whose marriage has fractured, whose father (who has some coin) does not want to help him in a financial crisis occasioned by some foolishness in the stock market.
4. Earlier in the week I'd finished The Adventures of Augie March, 1953, which won the National Book Award and thereby propelled Bellow (1915-2005) into the literary celebrity that he would enjoy for the rest of his life. I enjoyed much of Augie--there are some powerful and amazing scenes. In one section, for example, he goes along with his lover who has decided she wants to train an eagle. Let's just say that some disappointment ensues? But I soon got tired of the novel (a long one--it runs more than 500 pages in the Library of America volume I read) and of Augie--but I could see how it excited readers in the early 1950s: It was just so ... different from the general American literary fare of the day.
5. And I've started reading Bellow's Henderson the Rain King, 1959 much of which takes place in Africa, a continent Bellow had not visited at the time he wrote the novel. I've laughed aloud a few times while reading it in a local coffee shop--especially the scene when he tells the local tribe he's staying with that he can rid their water supply of a frog infestation. Things don't quite work out ... I'll write more about Henderson when I finish it next week.
6. We saw a pretty bad film on Saturday night--Get Hard (mentioned above). It resides firmly (!) in that genre of bromance and dirty-equals-funny comedy. Many jokes and bits about fellatio--all connected, of course, to the enduring American male unease with (maybe even fear of) homosexuality. (And the title, of course, is remote from subtle.) Ridiculous. There was not a very big crowd at the Kent Cinema, but Joyce and I were a little alarmed that so many there were clearly middle-schoolers (the film is rated "R"), middle-schoolers who were not accompanied by an adult. In front of us was a row of eight kids--four of each gender--and they were whooping and howling at the plethora of penis jokes that adorned the script. In self defense: We knew that the film was probably not going to be any good, but we'd seen all the decent films already, and we craved popcorn ... and for more than 45 years I have had few pleasures in life (if any) to equal sitting in the movies with Joyce, holding hands with her ... even in losers like Get Hard.
7. I read a piece in the New York Times today that undercut something I'd always believed was true--viz., that the great increases in tuition at state universities have principally be due to legislatures' tax-cutting frenzy of the past decades. The author of the op-ed piece, Paul Campos, is a professor at the University of Colorado, and he presents evidence that another factor has been responsible: the tremendous recent increases in administrative costs. Many more administrators in collegiate education than there used to be. In my own experience, this is certainly true. When I was a student at Hiram College (1962-1966), we had a president, an academic dean, a dean of students, (There were, as well, the usual and necessary officials--registrar, treasurer, etc.) But that was it. Let's just say that things have changed ... Although the number of students, I would guess, is approximately the same.
(Link to Times piece.)
8, And on this day which features the image of the egg, let's end with yesterday's word-of-the-day from dictionary.com: oology [oh-AHL-uh-gee]= the branch of ornithology that studies birds' eggs.