Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Sundries 64

1. AsOTW

  1. 8/25: We are heading north on I-77, near West Market Plaza; the guy entering from northbound on-ramp to I-77 refuses to yield, forces his way out; I have nowhere to go (a truck to my left). Slow. Honk. Hope he doesn't have a firearm.
  2. 8/25: A guy flies around me on Old Mill Road, double yellow line; I'm doing 40 (5 over the speed limit); we arrive virtually simultaneously at the stop sign at Aurora-Hudson Rd.; he has gained nothing by being the AOTW; I am ecstatic.
  3. 8/30: Joyce and I are walking across the Hudson Green; approaching us--a man walking a large poodle. We move to the side--the poodle leaps at us (and not in a friendly manner). Owner yanks (flashing teeth within inches of us), whimpers an apology, never knowing that only an hour later I will immortalize him here.

2. Last night--on a whim--Joyce and I played a game of double solitaire, a game we used to play back early in our marriage when money was only a rumor--those impecunious grad-student/public-school-teacher days. I would be less than a Man if I failed to acknowledge here that Joyce whupped me last night. (Rules for the game--if you're certain of the stability of your marriage.)

3. This week I finished a brief biography, Edgar Allan Poe: The Fever Called Living (2014), by Paul Collins, author of The Book of William: How Shakespeare's First Folio Conquered the World (2009) and The Trouble with Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine (2005)--both of which I've read and enjoyed.. (Other titles--link to Amazon author page.).

Poe is part of the Icons series published by New Harvest (Houghton Mifflin) and is, as I said, very brief--Poe dies on page 98. I was glad to see that Collins did not embrace some of the wilder theories about Poe's death (see, for example, Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe, 1998, John Evangelist Walsh) but instead said what ought to be said: "Nobody is quite sure ..." (97).

Collins sticks to the major works, for the most part, but he also talks about Poe's unfinished second novel, The Journal of Julius Rodman (which is pretty bad). He also deals with Poe's marriage to his 13-year-old first cousin, his drinking, his odd assaults on Longfellow (accusing him of plagiarism), and credits him--as did Arthur Conan Doyle--with popularizing/creating? the genre of the detective story.

Good place to start or reboot your Poe adventure ...

4. Joyce and I watched (via Netflix DVD) the Coen Bros.' 2008 film Burn After Reading (link to trailer); we'd seen it in the theater--and on cable--and it's one of our favorites, despite some critics' disdain for it. It's a savage parody of self-absorption and narcissism and has funny performances by Brad Pitt as a ditzy trainer at a health club (with Frances McDormand as a woman willing to betray her country to get money for some plastic surgery), George Clooney as a cheating spouse (with worries about his gut), and Tilda Swinton as Clooney's icy lover and the wife of John Malkovich, who does a great turn as an ousted CIA agent.

I think the critics Missed the Boat (to coin a phrase) (how's that? two cliches in seven words!) with this one--as they did with The Lone Ranger with Armie Hammer a few years ago.

5. This week the press has been hyping a new novel (The Girl in the Spider's Web--link to book on Amazon); it's based on the characters created by the late Stieg Larsson in his series of novels beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Now, another writer has taken over the stories (see this New York Times story), and the reviews have been good.

But I won't read it.

I'm always a little put off by other writers taking over the projects of dead writers. I used to love Robert P. Parker novels (eating them like junk food), but when he died in 2010, I quit. But novels under his name (written by others) continue to appear with Parkeresque regularity. I hear they're pretty good--but I just can't do it. (Oddly, Parker himself completed an unfinished novel by one of my heroes, Raymond Chandler (Poodle Springs, 1988) and wrote another one, too--Perchance to Dream, 1991. I read them both. Didn't feel good about it.)

In the thrall of the Jason Bourne movies, I read a Bourne novel that the late Robert Ludlam had not written; it sucked.

And now--I swear!--I will never do it again. Unless, of course, I do.

6. Finally, Joyce and I, on a whim, watched (via Netflix streaming) a comedy special by Demetri Martin, of whom we'd never heard (Demetri Martin Live). (He's got another one you can see on YouTube) He looks fourteen but has a great stage presence, and although a few F-bombs detonate here and there (as well as a few fart jokes) we found him very clever. He notices little things (a la George Carlin); he has fun with the way we use words.

For example--he has a little bit about the difference between our use of no and nope. I like a comedian who makes me think--who surprises me.

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