1. AOTW: We're eastbound on Aurora-Hudson Rd., approaching the Stow Road intersection. Approaching us is a westbound car. I have my left signal on (we're turning north); the westbound car continues to approach, then, at the last second, sans signal, turns left right in front of us to head south on Stow--a move earning the driver this week's AOTW.
2. This week I finished the recent (2013) collection of novellas by Andre Dubus III--Dirty Love. I found myself very moved by these stories of people hanging onto the economic edge in America, a group of people Dubus understands well (before he Hit It Big he was cliff-clinging by his fingernails, too, at least to judge from his 2011 memoir, Townie). I was especially affected by the final novella (which bears the same title as the whole book), which tells the story of an octogenarian great-uncle and her grand-niece. He's a former teacher; she's a maid in a motel & clears tables at a nearby bar. He's tutoring her for her GED, but she just can't get interested. She prefers her smart-phone (which Dubus calls her "iEverything"). She gets involved online with a damaged war vet, and at the end ...? I ain't tellin'!
One of Dubus' stylistic traits--the long sentence (now and then)--or a long series of repetitions. There's a lovely one at the end of the 1st novella ("Listen Carefully As Our Options Have Changed"). A man who's estranged from his wife imagines a reconciliation. For a page-long paragraph at the end he begins many sentences with Maybe. And it all ends with this as he's knocking on the front door of the house they once shared, the house where she now lives.
He would pay more attention, and he would let her do whatever she wanted, then and later, every day and every night and week and month she chose to stay with him, which she might not, this woman whose footsteps he now heard through the door, this woman he could hear moving through their entryway, his heart in his head once again for he did not know if he was even up for any of this, this change from change, the door swinging inward as he straightened, his wife's face lovely and surprised and waiting (80).
3. Last night, Joyce and I (via Netflix DVD) watched the Coen Bros. Inside Llewyn Davis, 2013, a film we'd somehow missed when it was in the theaters. (trailer for the film) We both love the Coen Bros. films, and this was no exception, despite its quieter, more perplexing nature. It's the story of a 1961 folksinger, trying to make it in NYC. He seems competent enough (there's lots of music in the film), but he just can't quite seem to get through the door. He's barely got a dime, is sleeping on the couches of friends and acquaintances, and there are all sorts of problems--not just with money. There's a pregnancy, an estrangement from his sister, an aging father--even a friend's cat gets caught up in his misery. Excellent cast. And--as you've got to expect from the Coen Bros.--some playfulness with chronology and perspective and the nature of "truth."
4, Some words and phrases that popped up this week
- having a field day I read this one somewhere this week and wondered about it, checked it out on the OED. And here's what I learned ... it dates back to the early 19th century ...
- b. fig. A day noted for remarkable or exciting events; a period of celebration or triumph. Now chiefly in to have a field day : to enjoy a great opportunity for action or success (sometimes at the expense of others).1827 T. Creevey Let. 26 Mar. (1934) ii. xiii. 236 Saturday was a considerable field day in Arlington Street,..and a very merry jolly dinner and evening we had.1848 Thackeray Bk. Snobs xx. 74 The mean pomp and ostentation which distinguish our banquets on grand field-days.
- nobbler was a word-of-the-day from the OED this week; it has several meanings, but the one I love is this one ...
- A person that hits; something used for hitting. 1. Eng. regional (Staffs. and Shropshire). A person who strikes or hits; spec. one formerly employed to strike inattentive members of a church congregation with a rod. Now hist.
I love the picture of a guy with a stick poking those who nod off in church. I could have used one in my classroom sometimes!
- bespoke which comes from bespeak, a term whose 5th meaning (below) is the one Shakespeare employed in the famous scene in The Taming of the Shrew when Petruchio, who has ordered new clothes for Katherine, finds fault with all of them--including the cap he'd ordered for her.
- To speak for; to arrange for, engage beforehand; to ‘order’ (goods).
- Here's the moment in Shrew when the word appears ...
5. Okay, why do we register a different weight on different scales?Enter HaberdasherPetruchio: What news with you, sir?Haberdasher: Here is the cap your worship did bespeak.Petruchio: Why, this was moulded on a porringer [a small bowl];A velvet dish: fie, fie! 'tis lewd and filthy:Why, 'tis a cockle [a type of clam] or a walnut-shell,A knack, a toy, a trick, a baby's cap:Away with it! come, let me have a bigger.Katharina: I'll have no bigger: this doth fit the time,And gentlewomen wear such caps as thesePetruchio: When you are gentle, you shall have one too,
And not till then.
6. I've used a Mont Blanc fountain pen for a long, long time. I love it. Imagine my surprise when I saw a full-page ad in the Times today for a new product Mont Blanc is bringing out, a scent for men! It's called "Mont Blanc Emblem." I guess they've found a use for some unused ink? And they found a model who looks remarkably like me (sans beard, of course).