1. AOTW: Okay, we've all been there--waiting for a left-turn arrow, sometimes, maybe, gunning it through the light as it goes amber, then red. Right? Okay. We all understand this. We keep alert if we're waiting at the light. But on Wednesday evening past, on our way over to Kent through Stow, we were waiting for our left-turn arrow. It came. But as I started nudging out into the intersection, here came a Guy in a Truck--a Guy in a Truck running a full red light the other way--a Guy in a Truck Using His Cell Phone. Had I not been watching for a Guy in a Truck/Car/SUV, there would have been a collision, right there in the intersection of Ohio 91 and Ohio 59 between the Innocent Dyers and the AOTW, who rolled on, smiling and oblivious.
2. This week I finished a couple of books. (Yesterday, I blogged about Peter Ackroyd's recent biography of Charlie Chaplin.) Joyce Carol Oates' Jack of Spades--one of her genre "thrillers"--was a lot of fun to read, a novel that paid direct and explicit homage to Stephen King (whose name and even behavior appear throughout), especially to his novel The Dark Half, 1989, which, coincidentally, was the first King novel I ever read. Summer 1990. Rohnert Park, Calif. Sonoma State University. I was taking a summer seminar for teachers on Jack London (sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities) with Prof. Earle Labor--the Jack London authority (his biography, a work of a lifetime, came out last year). I was living in a little dorm room, by myself, reading King at night. Trembling.
Oates picks up on King's idea--a writer who has a "dark half"--another writer inside (outside?) him who is (see term dark half) ... darker, evil, etc. Oates has a lot of fun with this notion, drawing King into her plot involving a writer of somewhat popular thrillers who--in the dead of night--writes other novels under the name of Jack of Spades, other novels that disgust (and therefore delight) many readers. Even his own suburban family doesn't know who he is after midnight.
Lots of naughtiness ensues. An ax. Not a major novel--but a major pleasure to read.
3. Poor Willy Wonka (portrayed here by Gene Wilder, now 82). I've seen this picture used as the background for all sorts of memes on Facebook--snarky memes that range politically from Far Left to Far Right. (Oddly, the photo is sometimes flipped so that Wonka/Wilder is leaning on his right hand and facing the right. Hmmmm ... is there a political connection? Right? Left?) Wonka's/Wilder's expression is perfect, though (isn't it?), for all sorts of sarcasm.
4. So at the Shell station, why do I have to see a little commercial on the pump display before I can fill my tank?
5. This week I could not for the life of me remember the name of Pancho Gonzalez (1928-1995), the tennis great who dominated the pro circuit during my boyhood. In those days, by the way, there were two circuits--pro and amateur. The major tournaments (Wimbledon, etc.) were all for amateurs only; the pros had to go on tour to try to make a living that way. As this New York Times obituary indicates, Gonzales turned pro early, before he'd won Wimbledon (link to obit). On YouTube you can see a film about him (about an hour long). (Link to film.)
Anyway, this week I thought about him (I'd once thought, daffy with self-delusion, that I would be the next Pancho!) but could not come up with his name. Took some Googling. Sic transit gloria mundi.
6. Joyce and I saw a fine film last night (Saturday)--Me and Earl and the Dying Girl--a film that won some Sundance awards this year--and I see why. It tells the story of two high school boys in Pittsburgh, friends since kindergarten (one is black, one white), who like to make film parodies--both stupid and funny. They get involved with a classmate, Rachel, who has leukemia, and the story proceeds from there. Terrific performances from everyone.
Only three things bothered me a little: (1) one boy's (Greg's) father (played wonderfully by Nick Offerman) was a tenured university professor, and we always see him unshaven, in a bathrobe, eating odd snack food and making wry remarks (okay, I get it--tenure is bad, right? make you lazy, right?); (2) the story deals heavily with Greg's (the white boy's) getting into college (it's their senior year--what about Earl?); (3) Earl virtually disappears near the end of the film ... why?
Other than that--we loved it.
Link to trailer for the film.