1. AOTW--tailgaters. I had two this week (one of each gender), both of whom seemed to believe that if they just got close enough to my rear bumper, I would accelerate and go as fast as they wanted to, rather than the (approx..) 5 mph over the limit that I always go. I tend to slow a little when this happens. I can not understand why someone would put him/herself in such danger: Tailgaters could not stop if the car in front had an emergency stop.
BTW: Interesting source of the term tailgater:
2. Joyce and I have been (slowly) working our way through the films of the Coen Bros. (via Netflix DVD), and Friday night we finished their Miller's Crossing (1990) a crime tale set during the Prohibition years--with Gabriel Byrne, John Turturo, and Albert Finney (among others--including a cameo by Coen favorite Frances McDormand). We noticed this time the film's fascination with men's hats, which, oddly have a metaphorical prominence here. A tale with some brutality (surprise! surprise!) but with some strong performances. Betrayals-violence-problems between men and women-desire for status and leadership-mistrust ... i.e, just like middle school. Next ... Barton Fink (1991) ... (Link to trailer for Miller's.)
3. I finished two books this week.
- How to Be a Tudor: A Dawn to Dark Guide to Tudor Life (2016) by Ruth Goodman is a wonderfully useful and practical book. As I said on Facebook this week, I wish I'd had this when I was teaching Shakespeare! All sorts of fascinating things about clothing, food, jobs, recreation, love and sex, etc. Goodman doesn't just write about these things, by the way. She cooked the food, made the clothing, played the games, etc. Full-immersion nonfiction! As a FB friend told me this week, Goodman has appeared in some BBC documentaries and has been adviser on films and TV series--like Wolf Hall.
- I also finished the penultimate novel by African American writer John A. Williams (1925-2015), of whom (as I've posted here before) I'd not ever heard until I read his obituary in the New York Times last summer, just about this time. (It was in the Times on July 6.) I've had a wonderful time going through his novels (pretty much in the order that he published them)--and I've read a couple of his nonfiction works, as well.
- Jacob's Ladder (1987) is set in contemporary Africa in the fictional country of Pandemi. The country has decided to build a nuclear reactor--with the full intention of having nuclear weapons, as well--and, needless to say, the rest of the world is ... interested. The Americans send a military officer, Jacob (Jake) Henry, who grew up in the country. He doesn't know that he's intended to be the "fall guy" in an American attempt to take out the reactor. The president of Pandemi, Chuma Fasseke (who knew Jacob in childhood), is neither a despot nor a madman. He merely wants his country to have the respect of the rest of the world; he doesn't want the more powerful European and North American countries to take advantage of Pandemi economically--to take their resources, etc. Well ... things tumble into chaos (things fall apart!), and we are left to consider questions of imperialism, racism, and other dark -isms.
- I liked the book better than the one right before this (The Berhama Account), and I continue to admire Williams' skill--his devotion to his issues--his clear-headed and -sighted analyses of our human dilemmas and contradictions.
4. Incident at Barnes & Noble. Okay, I'm not sure if this is "creepy" or not ... but here goes. On Friday night, Joyce and I were out at the B&N in West Akron. (It's the last big book store that's really near us--and it ain't all that near.) Anyway, I was standing by a display table, and across from me were a woman and her teenage daughter (or so I supposed). The younger said, pointing to a small pile, "Oh, this is one of my favorite books!" Well, I just had to see what it was--I can't help doing such things. I'm always peeking to see what other folks are reading, etc. Anyway, I looked and saw--with total shock--that it was Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities.
I immediately began reciting the long opening sentence ("It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ..."), a sentence I used to require my 8th graders to memorize. I did only about half of it, and the two turned to me with surprise in their eyes. Then I began to wonder: Are they seeing me as an old-guy-creep-perv haunting bookstores? So I started to move on before they ran for help. But they stopped me: Do you like Dickens? the mother asked. Oh yes, I said. I've read all of his novels. I kept moving--But, I added, I hated him in high school. They laughed; I sighed (with relief) and hurried to find Joyce--my protection against the cops who specialize in creeps and pervs.
5. Some last words ...
a. From the OED:
Of or relating to a bicycle or bicycles; of or belonging to a person who (habitually) rides a bicycle.
1880 J. G. Dalton Lyra Bicyclica p. iii, Bicyclian bards who sung Wheely ideas below.1990 R. Grudin Grace of Great Things xxi. 222 The bicyclian politics, which springs from a profoundly liberal commitment to the sharing of other people's rights, is seen to apply without discrimination on road, sidewalk, and lawn.
b. From the OED:
Pronunciation: Brit. /akˈniːstɪs/, U.S. /ækˈnistəs/
Origin:A borrowing from Latin. Etymon: Latin acnestis.
Etymology: < post-classical Latin acnestis < Hellenistic Greek ἄκνηστις spine, backbone < ancient Greek κνῆστις spine, cheese-grater, in Hellenistic Greek also itching ( < -κναίειν to scrape, grate, scratch (only attested in compounds; ultimately < the same Indo-European base as Old High German nuoen to polish, Lithuanian knoti to peel off, flake away) + inserted -σ- + -τις, suffix forming feminine nouns), either by the addition of prothetic ἀ- or by false segmentation of κατὰ κνῆστιν ‘on the spine’ (Homer Odyssey 10. 161).
The part of the back (or backbone) between the shoulder blades and the loins which an animal cannot reach to scratch; the part of the human back between the shoulder blades.
rare in genuine use.
1743 R. James Medicinal Dict. I., Acnestis, that Part of the Spine of the Back, which reaches from..the Part betwixt the Shoulder-blades, to the Loins. This Part seems to have been originally called so in Quadrupeds only, because they cannot reach it to scratch.
1848 R. Dunglison Med. Lexicon(ed. 7) 19/2 Acnestis, the part of the spine which extends, in quadrupeds, from between the shoulders to the loins. According to Pollux, the middle of the loins.
1854 C. A. Harris Dict. Med. Terminol.(ed. 2) 25/1 Acnestis.., that part of the back between the shoulder blades.
1927 Observer 3 Apr., That spot known to crossword solvers as the acnestis.
2000 O. Braun-Falco et al. Dermatol.(ed. 2) xxv. 991/1 The middle of the back is typically spared [being scratched]... This pattern of sparing has been called the reverse butterfly sign; the Greek word for the area that cannot be reached is acnestis.