Sunday, November 8, 2015
Sunday Sundries, 74
1. AOTW: I vowed last week--oh, the evanescence of vows!--that I was not going to award this low weekly honor to drivers: There are just too many of them out there doing insane, careless, dangerous things. But, okay, last night Joyce and I were driving home from Macedonia after seeing Spectre, the new Bond film (see below). We had just turned east from Rt. 8 onto Highland Rd. and were heading east toward Valley View and home. As Highland stretches to the east, it soon shifts from two lanes to one, and two different cars, in the merge lane, simply forced their ways ahead of us. Jammed the brakes. Uttered grievous execrations. A mile later, in the dark, a deer dashed in front of us, right across Valley View. A few seconds. So ... if the AsOTW had not cut me off, I might have hit the deer. Hmmmm ...
2. As I said, last night we went to see the new Bond film (trailer), which seems to be the last that Daniel Craig will do (at least, the end of the film allows for that possibility) (I just checked: it seems now that the producers think he will be back). I've liked Craig, right from the beginning, and rank him right up there with Sean Connery--perhaps slightly below. He's athletic, can be cold or warm, is entirely credible (unlike, say, George Lazenby or Pierce Brosnan or Roger Moore. (I actually liked Timothy Dalton, but the scripts were awful).)
So ... how did I like the film? Middling Bond. Decent. Overlong (most are). Joyce said there were too many exploding buildings (I agree--though that seems to be very popular in action films these days). I like the newer cast--Ralph Fiennes as M, Ben Whishaw as Q; I'm less fond of Naomie Harris as Moneypenny--and Christoph Waltz, now a veteran Bad Guy, is okay as Blofeld. He even has a white cat. Meow.
Lots of Bonds have 007 in a gambling casino. This one didn't. I felt deprived of something fundamental. But we have a hot car, a wee gadget that comes in handy, some dazzling stunts (car, airplane, helicopter, etc.).
So ... good not great.
I should add that I've seen all the Bonds--more than once. The first was Dr. No, which I saw in 1963 (I had just started college) at the old Hiram College Sunday night movie (blew me away), and I've told the story about how Joyce and I--on our honeymoon in New Orleans, Dec. 1969--saw On Her Majesty's Secret Service (the single Bond with Lazenby), the installment in the series that sees Bond's new bride murdered at the very end. Nice choice for a honeymoon, eh?
3. This week I also finished reading James Shapiro's new book, The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606. Shapiro has another year-in-the-life-of-Shakespeare book, A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599, which I also read the year it was published (2005). And liked a lot.
Shapiro knows what he's doing: He's a professor of English at Columbia and has written quite a bit about the Bard. In this new volume he looks at one of Shakespeare's most productive periods--a period that came relatively late in his career. Things were difficult in London. Queen Elizabeth I had died in 1603, and James I was now on the throne--and in 1605 ... the Gunpowder Plot, which could have wiped out Parliament and the King along with it.
Shapiro looks at three plays the Bard wrote around this time--Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and King Lear--using the prisms of cultural and political and religious history to cast different colors on their stories, their composition, their enduring and evolving meanings.
Shapiro does not write for a general audience, really, and assumes that readers know a bit about the plays and about Elizabethan and Jacobean England. But he's not writing (entirely) for a scholarly audience, either. (There is none of the jargon and Elevation of Minutiae that one can find in an entirely scholarly work.) Demanding, not impossible.
I learned quite a few things from him in this book--was reminded of many others. And I like this insight: "Shakespeare saw that the best way for him to grapple with the present was to engage with the past ..." (26). Of course, Shapiro--like every other writer about the Bard--must infer so much because of the absence of so much in the documentary record of Shakespeare's life. No letters, journals, manuscripts, etc.
4. I'm not making bread this Sunday. I've got more than I need in the freezer. But ... I still must use my sourdough starter about once a week (I've kept it alive for nearly thirty years--don't want to kill it now), so I made some waffle batter, and Joyce and I will haul out the waffle-baker for supper!
I'm getting more and more emotional about bread-baking as I get older. I've done it for more than forty years, and for a couple of decades have been insanely regular about doing it on Sunday mornings. I can't help thinking that each batch could be my last (I know, I know: depressing), and I sometimes find myself tearing up as I knead the dough. I am turning into someone I would not have recognized back in high school!
5. Plain Dealer books page watch: There were three full reviews this week, one from the New York Times, another from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and the third ... a local writer, Mark Gamin, who's published quite a few fine reviews for the paper. I don't think this signals a change (though I hope, hope, hope) because the book (Paul Theroux's Deep South) came out in late September, and this review could be one that the paper is just now finding space for?