1. AOTW: I had two encounters with the AOTW this week--or perhaps the second guy was merely a clone? In both cases I was doing something objectionable in the car--going 5 mph over the posted speed limit. (I know, just so egregious!) In both the cases, the AOTW (and clone?) roared by me--ignoring the double yellow center lines, lines that mean, of course, NO PASSING. But, hey, when you're an AOTW, you live with the understanding that rules are for other people. One incident, by the way, was in a 25 mph zone; the other, in a 35.
2. I finished three books this week, two of which were in my ten-pp-/night pile up in my bedroom. But first ... the one I read just this week.
- I started reading Jonathan Lethem a few years ago when the Cleveland Plain Dealer let me review his newest book at the time. I often tried to find books to review by writers I'd not read much of: That way I could read all/most of their work before I read the new one. This helped me see where the new one "fit" (or didn't) in the writer's sequence of works.
Lethem's new one, like his others, has wonders of oddity about it. A Gambler's Anatomy (2016) is about a guy (Alexander Bruno) who's a major hustler in backgammon (that's right: backgammon). As the story begins, he's not feeling well--is seeing a dark blot in his field of vision. Well, he learns he has a major tumor growing behind his face (!!); surgery ensues--paid for by an old acquaintance from his boyhood days in the Bay Area. He ends up going there for the surgery, hooking up again with this friend, living in a the Jack London Apartments (!!!) in Berkeley--and there are also several references to Glen Ellen, Calif., where London lived the final years of his life--though Lethem makes no overt explanation of this.
Lethem salts and peppers his text with allusions to other books I love--like the Flashman series (George MacDonald Fraser) and Hamlet and The Picture of Dorian Gray, etc. I loved it!
Well, the old "friendship" sours (his benefactor is hated in Berkeley, where he owns a lot of commercial property), and the book races to its conclusion at a poker table.
Fun to read.
- I also finished Stephen King's fat 2011 novel, 11/22/63, a time-travel novel about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. So much of the book I really enjoyed--mostly because I remembered so much of the historical context. I was a sophomore in college when Kennedy fell--I heard the first announcements on the car radio. (I was driving to Indianapolis to see some Osborn relatives.)
Anyway, the novel benefits and suffers from the time-travel genre. You just can't think about it too much, though, because thinking of logical problems with the time-travel device will only diminish your pleasure. Anyway, a guy goes back to try to prevent the assassination, but the past doesn't want to be changed (we hear this several times--more than several), so it is far more of a struggle than he'd imagined. Also, he gets caught up in a love affair, a relationship that the past also attempts to destroy. And he enjoys a stint as a public-school English teacher ... can you imagine?!?
Don't want to give away too much--it really is fun to read. But I have to tell you that the ending had me in tears. (Yes, I'm a weepy guy ... but still ....)
We have started streaming the Hulu min-series based on the novel (with James Franco as the time-traveler), and I kind of like it (about half-way through the first episode). I'll let you know what I think. (Trailer for TV series.)
- The 3rd novel I (finally) finished was one of Craig Johnson's novels about Sheriff Walt Longmire (yes, the same as the Netflix series--link to series trailer). It's the fifth in the series (I'm reading them in order): The Dark Horse. I have to say that the books are quite different from the TV series--the characters are different--in physical as well as in other textural ways. (His Cheyenne friend, Henry Standing Bear, for example, is a large, powerful man in the books; on TV, he's Lou Diamond Phillips--not exactly a daunting presence.) Also, the books are in 1st person (Walt's voice), so that makes a difference, as well--the TV series has no voice-overs, etc.
Anyway, I sort of forced myself to finish this novel (took me months), but I've already got the next one on my Kindle (which is how I read this first one). I enjoyed some references to "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (the dark horse stuff--and our grandson Carson, 7, was the Headless Horseman on Halloween!), but for the most part it was a struggle.
3. This week--in honor of writer Richard Russo (whose complete works I recently completed)--I memorized the song from Shakespeare's Cymbeline--"Fear no more the heat o' the sun." Russo employs that song in two different books--in both cases the song figures in a memorial service during which a character is scattering the ashes of a parent. It happens in That Old Cape Magic (novel) and in his memoir, Elsewhere. (Oddly, in both works he refers to the song as a "sonnet," which it most definitely is not?!!?) Here is a link to the words of the song.
4. Last night (Saturday) we saw the latest film about Jack Reacher (Never Go Back). I won't. It was a mid-level Jason Bourne ripoff. I went because I've read all the Reacher novels by Lee Child, and I've already ordered the new one. But--as many other observers have said--Tom Cruise is no Jack Reacher. Cruise is a bit long in the tooth, he's small (Reacher is 6'5" or so), he's just not convincing--not to me.
Also, this film has that "wise teenager" character/cliche I'm so tired of and some other silliness that had my heart yawning instead of racing.
Still ... I had to see it, you know? (Link to trailer for the film.)
5. A few last words--words I liked this week from my various online word-of-the-day providers.
- from the Oxford English Dictionary
Of vegetation: that grows on rocks or cliffs. Also: living among or occupying rocks or cliffs. Cf. rupestral
Origin:A borrowing from Latin, combined with an English element. Etymons: Latin rupestris, -ine suffix1.
Etymology: < scientific Latin rupestris (1753 as a specific epithet in botany; 1758 as a specific name in zoology; 1737 or earlier in post-classical Latin in botanical use; < classical Latin rūpēs steep rocky cliff, crag (see rupicapra n.) + -stris, suffix forming adjectives) + -ine suffix1.
1787 J. Abercrombie Every Man his Own Gardener(ed. 11) 587/2 Rupestrine, or rock cinquefoil.
1821 Edinb. Philos. Jrnl. 5 257 This is also the case with regard to the maritime rupestrine plants.
1845 Jrnl. Royal Geogr. Soc. 15 342 Saxifragæ, lichens, and other rupestrine plants..constituting the prevailing vegetation.
1927 Bryologist 30 50 Every transition between these forms and the more entire leaved plants of rupestrine habit may be observed.
1934 ‘H. MacDiarmid’ Stony Limits 52 Look over this beach. What ruderal and rupestrine growth is here?
1999 Ecology 80 23/1 The body temperatures of animals whose temperatures are closely linked to that of the substrate (e.g.,..rupestrine crabs).
- from dictionary.com
galimatias \gal-uh-MEY-shee-uh s, -MAT-ee-uh s\
1. confused or unintelligible talk.
I have seen this letter in which you tell me there is so much galimatias, and I assure you that I have not found any at all. On the contrary, I find everything plainly expressed …
-- George Eliot, "A Woman in France: Madame de Sablé," The Westminster Review, January and April, 1854
Origin of galimatias
Galimatias is of uncertain origin except that it is French and may be related to gallimaufry "a hash of various meats, hodgepodge." It entered English the mid-1600s.
- from wordsmith.org
noun: The practice of concealing a message within another nonsecret message.
From Greek stego- (cover) + -graphy (writing). Ultimately from the Indo-European root (s)teg- (to cover), which also gave us thatch, toga, stegosaurus, detect, and protect. Earliest documented use: 1569.
Examples of steganography: Shrinking the secret text until it’s the size of a dot and then putting it in an unsuspected place, such as the dot on top of a letter i in some innocuous letter. Shaving the head of a man, writing the secret message on his pate with unwashable ink, and then letting the hair grow back before dispatching him to the destination (example from history). To take an example from modern digital techniques, one could put the text of a message in the blank spaces in an image file.
“Using steganography, Steve was able to hide his message in the photographs he took that day.”
Andre Le Gallo; The Caliphate; D Street Books; 2012.