1. AOTW: No individual managed to meet my high low standards for this weekly award. Oh, sure, there were the usual dazzlingly mad moves by people in traffic, but I'm beginning to realize (after driving a car for some 55 years) that these are not so much evidence of assholery as they are of humanity (American-style). Oh, I just remembered: I overheard a guy on Saturday (I won't tell you where)--an older guy (my age or more)--who was arguing that we spend too much on our local library and that we really don't need it anymore. I felt like approaching him, finding out how much he actually spends in local taxes for the library, and reimbursing him on the spot. (But I'm a wuss, so I didn't.) Come to think of it: He's the AOTW. No question.
2. I realized, looking at the title of this post (Sunday Sundries No. 53) that I let a year slip by without noting the anniversary. I began these Sundries a little over a year ago--well, 53 weeks, to be exact--and have greatly enjoyed having a place to dump the week's overflow of ideas. Dump, is kind of a harsh word (only a letter away from dumb), so maybe a synonym ... deposit? place? publish? There really are many nicer words that dump.
Anyway, I work in desultory fashion on these Sunday posts all week long--making notes for things I want to mention, sometimes even writing a bit so that I don't have to do so much on Sunday.
3. A couple of books ...
- This week I finished Jon Krakauer's latest, Missoula, about the spate of rape cases at the University of Montana (in Missoula, MT). I've always enjoyed Krakauer's books--especially the "outdoorsy" ones about climbing and, of course, a text that many teachers I know have used in class--Into the Wild (1996). The last one I read was Under the Banner of Heaven (2003), his history and assessment of the Mormons. It was not a book calculated to delight those who observe that faith, but I learned a lot about Mormon history--and politics. In Missoula, Krakauer focuses on a couple of key cases (won't give away the trial results) and on our system of jurisprudence--our adversarial system. Cover-ups and cowardice play major roles, as well. What Krakauer does not sufficiently address, I don't think, is the Clydesdale in the room: alcohol. In the major cases he discusses, both the young man and woman were drunk. Hmmmmm? Don't we need to do something about the Alcohol Culture among the young, a culture celebrated in countless films (e.g., 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street)? I'm not sure what we can do about it--but don't we need to try? Excessive alcohol consumption makes all of us stupid, uninhibited, careless, dangerous. It leads every year to thousands of deaths, countless indiscretions, regrettable, life-altering experiences of every variety ... but we do nothing?
- I also finished the latest work (a novella) by Norwegian writer Jo Nesbø, Blood on Snow (a title whose meaning becomes apparent in the final scene). This is not one of his Det. Harry Hole novels (which I really like) but a "stand-alone"--a novella about (and narrated by) a hit man who finds he can't, well, execute one of his contracts. Consequences ensue. This is territory well-mined by America's Lawrence Block, who has a series of hit-man novels (Hit Man, Hit List, Hit Parade) about a killer named ... Keller), and others. But Nesbø can write (not that Block can't!), and the action is compelling and surprising--and there's a stunning conclusion.
4. So ... this morning ... at the Open Door Coffee Co. ... using a device a little smaller than a pack of playing cards ... I caught up on some correspondence, ordered a new collection of short stories by Jerome Charyn, shared with more than 700 friends some interesting articles in today's New York Times, checked to see if Library of America has any Wallace Stegner novels (they don't), transferred some money from one bank account to another ... The world has changed just a little since I was a kid ...
5. Last night, Joyce and I went to see Ex Machina, a film I'd not really thought too much about seeing (I guess I thought it was going to be just another shoot-em-up/blow-em-up sci-fi film). But then ... somewhere (where?) ... I read a good notice about it, and we decided to go--though it was almost too late. Only one place near us was showing it at the early-evening slot (7:20): It's on the way out.
Both of us liked it a lot. It was somewhat cerebral (discussions of A.I., Jackson Pollock, Robert Oppenheimer, et al.), had me guessing (I was wrong just enough to please rather than annoy me), offered little actual violence (until near the very end), and was more of a psychological thriller, a series of mind games, a disquisition on the slippery nature of truth (who's telling it? who's lying?), the dimensions of madness, the nature of identity--and the definition of human. Definitely worth seeing. (Link to trailer for the film.)