1. Two nice things happened this week ... both on Friday ...
- In line at the coffee shop I was lightly kidding a man ahead of me about paying for my coffee; I didn't know him; he paid for my coffee!
- On my bike--at the junction of College Street and Rt. 303 (I was attempting to cross the latter, on my way to another coffee shop)--I could not get across. Traffic was the flooded Mississippi. Then a cop pulled up, turned on his flashing lights; traffic stopped; he waved me across.
- Sometimes we humans can be kind creatures, you know?
2. I did not finish a book this week, but I'm reading Richard Russo's Bridge of Sighs (about 75% done), a novel I'd read in 2007, when it came out (I have a little note inside the cover--as is my wont). But as readers on this site know, I've been working my way through all of Russo's novels, first (Mohawk, 1986) to last (Everybody's Fool, 2016)--and have been having a thrill doing so. He is so damn good. Except for Nobody's Fool and Everybody's Fool I've been reading them in the order of publication--watching his growth as a writer, tracking his themes and ideas as they've developed--and deepened.
Anyhow, here's the thing: I read Bridge of Sighs nine years ago--and I'm not remembering any of it as I'm reading it again. That's good in some ways (I'm really not too sure what's going to happen)--bad in others (why don't I remember?). Well, I will have finished it by next week, Fate permitting, so I'll write more about it then.
Oh, and I'm taking notes this time!
Oh, and I'm taking notes this time!
3. Joyce and I are now watching Disk 4 (of 6) of the Brit series William and Mary about the love affair/relationship between an undertaker (Martin Clunes) and a midwife (Julie Graham) and their wacko families. We've loved Clunes since we got hooked on Doc Martin (this series came earlier). Much to love about it, but (as I've said before ) I'm a little weary of the "rebellious teen" motif in this series (and others). Yes, of course, many teens are rebellious, but I taught them for 45 years, and I taught many, many wonderful young men and women whose lives don't ever seem worthy of a TV script. Mild complaint, though. I really do enjoy the series (for the most part).
4. As I indicated earlier (on FB) Joyce and I drove up to the Cedar-Lee Theater on Labor Day afternoon to see the Mike Birbiglia film (he wrote, directed, stars) Don't Think Twice, a very well reviewed film that has had very little play around northeastern Ohio. It's the story of a group of improv players in New York, local but loved. Then ... one of them wins a spot on a show (Weekend Live), based of course on SNL. And things change ... It is a comedy, so things work out more or less in a way that's satisfying, but there is some darkness at the core of the story, too--a darkness that's present in every great comedy.
In fact, a few years ago, up at the Stratford Festival, Joyce and I saw a Peter Sellars' production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, a production that emphasized the darkness in the story (families splitting, lovers quarreling, friendships fracturing, etc.). It was a grim, grim revelation, seeing the play through Sellars' lens.
Anyway, Joyce and I both really liked Birbiglia's film. For one thing, we liked that he didn't make himself the star (or even much of a focus) of the film. For another, we really admired how he was able to create an improvisational feel about the whole film--not just the scenes of the actors doing their improv bits (for fairly small audiences). There was an engaging reality about the whole thing--the look, the dialogue, the characters.
Most of the actors are not well known--the exceptions: Birbiglia and Keegan-Michael Key. (Richard Masur and Ben Stiller have cameos.) (Link to trailer for the film.)
Unfortunately, the film, as I said, has had few homes around northeastern Ohio. The Cedar-Lee and Akron's Nightlight theater are the only two venues it's had, I think? But--for us--well worth the long drive to Cleveland Heights on a lovely Labor Day.
(On Sept. 13, 2014, we saw Birbiglia perform live at the Palace in downtown Cleveland. Loved it.)
5. Final words--some words I liked from my various online word-of-the-day venues this week:
- pulverulent \puhl-VER-yuh-luh nt, -VER-uh-luh nt\ adjective (from dictionary.com
1. covered with dust or powder.
2. consisting of dust or fine powder.
... On shelves pulverulent, majestic stands / His library; in ragged plight, and old; / Replete with many a load of criticism…
-- Mark Akenside, "The Poet," Gentleman's Magazine, July 1737
Origin of pulverulent
Pulverulent finds its roots in the Latin word pulvis meaning "dust." It entered English in the mid-1600s.
- lucida \LOO-si-duh\ noun (from dictionary.com)
1. Astronomy. the brightest star in a constellation.
... if we pass across the Milky Way in the opposite direction, we arrive at Deneb, the lucida of Cygnus; and beyond the Swan, a little out of the Milky Way, is Vega, the bright star in the Lyre.
-- George Frederick Chambers, A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy, 1861
Origin of lucida
Lucida is from the full phrase in Latin stella lūcida meaning "bright star." Lucida can be traced to the Latin verb lūcēre meaning "to shine," which itself comes from lux, a noun meaning "light." Lucida entered English in the 1700s.