Saturday, May 23, 2015
Sunday Sundries, 52
1. AOTW--Actually, this should be plural. On Ohio 91, just north of Terex Rd., the two northbound right lanes diminish into one. In the right lane is a sign that says: Right lane ends. But--guess what? Many drivers who are in that lane, heading north, assume that they have the right-of-way and, instead of yielding to those on the left, roar ahead and force their way in, a move sometimes accompanied by digital sign language. But, hey, it's YOUR lane that's ending, not mine; you AsOTW must yield and merge!
2. A correction to the piece I posted earlier this week about former Hiram Schools classmate Eddie Troyer, who recently passed away. (Link to that original post.) I wrote that he had once--in a pick-up touch football game in our neighborhood--worn track shoes, which he used to spike my younger brother's calf. But said younger brother (Dave) reminded me on the phone the other day that it was I whom Eddie spiked--and that his spikes had not only sliced into my calf but had also ruined a new pair of jeans. And Dave was right (as usual--at least in my mother's mind). 'Twas I!
3. This week I finished Romantic Outlaws, a dual biography by Charlotte Gordon about Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (later, Shelley). She alternated chapters--following each Mary to the end of her life (1797 and 1851, respectively). Her research was thorough, though for some reason she left out an interesting series of exchanges in the mid-1820s between Mary Shelley and reformer Frances "Fanny" Wright, who tried to convince the daughter of MW to go with her to America, to Tennessee (near Memphis), where FW was starting a community of freed slaves, a place she called Nashoba. (Her plan: buy slaves, train them for a trade, free them.) Wright and Shelley met and corresponded, but Mary, who had a young son and a domineering father-in-law (who controlled the purse strings) simply could not follow Wright to Nashoba.
But Gordon's book is a fine one--especially for those beginning their Wollstonecraft-Shelley adventures. One of the things I like (and it was something I liked about the recent Death and the Maidens by Janet Todd--a book about MW's daughter Fanny, who committed suicide) is that Gordon, like Todd, is very hard on the men in these women's lives. Much of the men's harshness, of course, was due to the gender relations of the times, but as both authors point out, the men (Godwin, Shelley, and others) considered their own lives far more important than the women's--and the consequences were dire for the women.
4. This week, I also finished the latest collection of short stories by Steven Millhauser, who has been one of my favorites since Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of An American Writer, 1943-1954 by Jeffrey Cartwright (1972), a fantastic novel narrated by a young boy (JC) about the recent death of his friend. But--oh, does this novel take you places you didn't expect to go! As do the stories of Millhauser (who's on the faculty of Skidmore). These current stories--like so many of his others--show the mystery that underlies even the most ordinary aspects of our lives.
I sent a link to one of the stories ("Home Run") to my baseball-loving grandson Logan. It's in the voice of a play-by-play announcer telling about a towering home run that both wins a game and goes places you cannot imagine.
But all the stories are great, including an odd updating of the Rapunzel tale. Another story--"Mermaid Fever"--we used for a prompt in the "Junior Writing Exam" at Western Reserve Academy in the spring of 2010. I hated the JWE (don't get me started!), but having Millhauser involved somewhat dulcified me.
5. Well, we had a cracked and leaking sewer pipe descending from our upstairs (bathroom, laundry room) where it plunged below the basement floor to its connection. The repair--which took two guys about three hours (and a jack hammer!)--cost a sweet $1300. I told Joyce I wouldn't have minded teaching for that rate throughout my career.
6. I've noticed--as I'm sure you have--the new way to write emphatic sentences--breaking them up into individual words and putting periods after each word. (I. Am. So. Upset.) I have only one thing to say about this trend: Stop. This. Now. I. Hate. It.
7. Finally, last night Joyce and I saw Brad Bird's new film, Tomorrowland. Let me confess; I didn't know (and Joyce didn't, either) that it was targeted at youngsters, but once we saw the previews (cartoons, kids' films), then we knew. But we'd already paid for the tickets, were already elbow-deep into the popcorn. So ...
I liked a lot of it, actually (what's not to like about George Clooney?), but what bothered me: Futuristic films almost always focus on the technology--displaying a kind of Jetsons idea of what a really cool future would be. Lots of electronic devices and modes of transportation and architecture and clothing. But there was no hint that we are any different--and this, of course, means: We. Are. Still. In. Trouble. Until we learn to become more compassionate, more empathetic, more tolerant--well, we're going to keep on destroying one another in ever more horrific ways--no matter what amazing device we currently use to access Facebook.
I loved the young girl who played "Athena" in the film--Raffey Cassidy. Wonderfully expressive eyes and face. An actor already.