1. AOTW--An easy one this week. We were turning left onto a one-way street in Hudson, and here came some dude (the AOTW) on a bicycle, heading the wrong way. He seemed so ... insouciant. As if Fate would guide him safely. Missed him by inches. Uttered some grievous execrations (a phrase from William Bradford, in Of Plymouth Plantation--always loved it. He was writing about some dude who was always cursing aboard the Mayflower, then got washed overboard.)
2. We've been watching and enjoying (via Netflix DVD) the 2015 six-part PBS series The Brain, hosted by neuroscientist David Eagleman (link to trailer for series). We've been enjoying it more with each episode--and Eagleman appears to be "lightening up" a little, too--I thought he seemed a little stiff--forced--in the early episodes. We've seen three of the six now; the remaining ones are on the way. Stunning to see how little we really decide about what we do ...
3. This afternoon, I'm heading over to Welshfield, Ohio, where I'll join others for my 54th high school reunion. Hiram High School, which closed/consolidated in 1964, was a very small school, so the reunions in recent years (decades?) have been come-one-come-all. Not specific years. Always fun to see old (very old) friends and to reminisce about When We Were Kings and Queens ... I'll write more about it next week.
4. This week, I finished two books. The first, Coxey's Crusade for Jobs: Unemployment in the Gilded Age, I blogged about in full earlier this week, so I won't say anymore about it here. The other was Richard Russo's second novel, The Risk Pool (1988), which, like his first one (Mohawk), takes place in the crumbling, fictional town of ... Mohawk (upstate NY) ... during the late 50s, early 1960s, the boyhood and young manhood of the narrator, Ned Hall.
Ned does not have an Ozzie-and-Harriet home life. His dad, a town alcoholic, is rarely around; Mom has psychological issues. Ned, however, ends up spending significant time with them both as the novel unwinds. And unwinds, I think is a fitting word to describe Russo's fictional technique (I've now read four of his eight novels). There is no real "plot," not in an evident way, not until the end, when you realize what a remarkable journey you've been on. In this way, he reminds me a bit of the late Jim Harrison, whose novels also seemed to "unwind"--giant balls of twine whose ultimate shape is concealed beneath so many loops and lines. Things, in other words, just seem to happen, the way they do in Real Life, and it's not until you've read a lot of the novel that you realize what's been happening.
Also like Mohawk and the other two I've read, The Risk Pool contains a menagerie of small-town eccentrics (and wackos)--kindly people who don't appear to be so, people with secrets, people with inexplicable demons that drive them into horror--all occurring in a place where "nuclear family" has more than one meaning!
Ned ages, goes off to school, learns some secrets, appreciates some folks he didn't earlier on, realizes what his own fantasies and delusions were. "Risk pool," a term from the insurance industry, appears several times in the text--for Ned's father spends most of his time swimming in it.
I love Russo's technique--overwhelming us with story, with events, and it's not until later that those stories, by some rough magic, become our own.
Next on my Russo list--Straight Man (1997).
5. Saw the new Ghostbusters last night in Kent--a part of the celebration for two very important birthdays--our son's (July 16) and Joyce's (July 20). I can't say I was crazy about it--though I did like the off-type performance by Chris Hemsworth (who knew that Thor could dance?). Some of the lines were funny. Liked Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. But it was overlong, and I'm weary of seeing scenes of urban destruction--buildings smashed, etc. Over and over and over in superhero and sci-fi and other films. Z-z-z-z-z. Oh, enjoyed the cameos by some of the original Ghostbusters, too. (Link to film trailer.)
6. Last words ... some words I liked this week from my various online word-a-day services.
noun: A place of worship.
From Latin fanum (temple). Earliest documented use: 1400s.
“Here, in a fane of stone she ended her days, a shaved priestess of a grim unloving order.”
Tanith Lee; Night’s Master; DAW Books; 1978.
Zoosemiotics \zoh-uh-see-mee-OT-iks, -see-mahy-, -sem-ee-, -sem-ahy-\
1. the study of the sounds and signals used in animal communication, as song in birds or tail-wagging in dogs.
The basic assumption of zoosemiotics is that, in the last analysis, all animals are social beings, each species with a characteristic set of communication problems to solve.
-- Thomas A. Sebeok, Perspectives in Zoosemiotics, 1972
from Oxford English Dictionary
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈbakrənɪm/, U.S. /ˈbækrəˌnɪm/
Forms: 19– backronym, 19– bacronym.
Origin:Formed within English, by blending. Etymons: back adj., acronym n.
An acronym formed from a phrase whose initial letters spell out a particular word or words, chosen to enhance memorability. Also: a contrived explanation of an existing word's origin, positing it as an acronym. Hence: the phrase used to form (or contrived to explain) such an acronym.
1983 Washington Post 8 Nov. b8/3 A bacronym, says Meredith, is the ‘same as an acronym, except that the words were chosen to fit the letters’.
1999 Writer's Digest Dec. 43 Seasonal affective disorder (which yields the backronym SAD).
2000 Sydney Morning Herald(Nexis) 14 Nov. (Internat. News section) 10 Other readers thought these might be ‘backronyms’ invented after the word was already in use.
2004 S. Rivkin & F. Sutherland Making Name i. 26 A bacronym that encodes meaning builds a marketing premise into it.
2006 Network World 7 Aug. 50/1, I wasn't enthusiastic when CAN SPAM (otherwise known as the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act, a laborious backronym if there ever was one) was made into law in 2003.
2012 Social Justice Oct. 112 Ned is falsely assumed to denote a ‘Non-Educated Delinquent’, a pejorative backronym that permits symbolic power to denigrate with impunity.