1. AOTW: Parking lot of the health club. I have finished my workout. Am in the car. Ready to back out and go home. I pull partway back. See a car coming along the lot driveway. Pause to let the AOTW get by. But. The AOTW stops right behind me. Sits there. Can see me. Can see my backup lights. Sits there. Waits. Here comes her daughter (?), a girl about 10, sauntering across the lot to get in Mom's (?) car. She gets in. They chat a bit. Then slowly move on, allowing me--at last!--to finish backing out. Cursing the AOTW all the way home.
2. Despite an illness later in the week (during which I did nothing except sleep and stagger to the bathroom and kitchen now and then), I did manage, earlier in the week, to finish a couple of books.
* Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War, by Mary Roach (2016). I'd actually begun the book in late August, but then put it aside to do some necessary research on Frances "Fanny" Wright for my endless book about Mary Shelley, which I've been serializing here since, oh, 1998 (Frankenstein Sundae). I picked Roach up again in mid-October and finally finished on November 7.
I love Roach's work. I had the opportunity to review her book Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (2013) for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and, to prepare, I read her other books about the human body. She is a fearless researcher--seemingly unembarrassed about anything (and I mean anything).
Grunt deals with research conducted (mostly) by the military on such things as clothing, diarrhea at the battlefront (!), perspiration, the effects of explosions on the human body, and so on. She went around, interviewed, participated, ruminated, waxed wise (she can be very funny), and generally, as always, explored territory that other writers prefer to avoid.
* The Ultimate Good Luck (1986) is the second novel by Richard Ford, whose complete works I'm now reading, in order of composition. It's a thriller that takes place in Mexico, where the brother of our protagonist's former wife has gotten himself in prison for drugs. Worse: The drug-dealer's source believes that Sonny (the brother) has been skimming. Enter our "hero," Harry Quinn, who agrees to try to bribe folks to get the brother out of prison. Twists. Turns. Surprises. Violence. It reminded me a bit of a raw Elmore Leonard novel. Quinn is a vet of the Vietnam War and--to quote Liam Neeson--"has some skills." Don't want to say how it turns out, but--let's say--not everyone emerges in good shape by the end.
Rapid, exciting prose.
3. We've been streaming the latest season of Luther, the Brit TV series about a hard-nosed Brit detective (played by the amazing Idris Elba). This (short) season is grim--about a serial killer cum cannibal whom the cops are relentlessly pursuing, hoping to interrupt/prevent his next meal.
The Luther series is so intense that Wussy Dan can watch only about 15-20 minutes at a time before shifting to something less ... stressful (like an episode of The Rockford Files, a series I've seen in its entirety about a dozen times--or more). Link to trailer for Luther.
I find I'm having the same I-can't-take-the-stress experience with the Hulu series based on Stephen King's 11/22/63, a novel about the Kennedy assassination that I recently finished. Even though I know what is going to happen, I still get hyper-diaper as I watch and have to switch to Rockford after about fifteen minutes. Link to trailer for series.
4. Lousy birthday this year. On Thursday morning (the day before) I took our 2010 Corolla in for service at Don Joseph in Kent, felt a little weird, and by the time I was home, I knew a Sibling of Death had arrived to take over my life. Down in bed I went, and down I stayed the rest of Thursday, all of Friday (my birthday!), most of Saturday, until the Sibling of Death finally got bored with The Rockford Files and left in despair.
We'd had to cancel a dinner at Dontino's with our son and his family (grrrrr), and, I suppose, we'll have a make-up date down the road. Though Thanksgiving is approaching, so we'll probably not. I had let everyone know, by the way, that I want no presents for the rest of my life (and I mean it), and all generously acceded to my wishes. Except for Joyce. Who ignores me. Spoils me. Gives me things I didn't even know I needed/wanted.
5. Some Last Words from the Various Word-a-Day Online Services I Subscribe To.
* from the Oxford English Dictionary
opuscule, n. A small work; esp. a short or minor literary or musical work.
Origin: Of multiple origins. Partly a borrowing from French. Partly a borrowing from Latin. Etymons: French opuscule; Latin opusculum.
Etymology: < Middle French, French opuscule small work (1488) or its etymon classical Latin opusculum opusculum n.; compare -cule suffix. Compare later opuscle n. Compare Italian opuscolo (14th cent.).
c1530 R. Whitford(title) Here foloweth .ii. opuscules or smale werkes of Saynt Bonauenture.
1656 T. Blount Glossographia, Opuscule, a little work, a little labor.
1777 T. Twining Let. 30 Aug. (1991) I. 137 Have you heard any more of Mr. Mason's projected opuscule about Music?
a1851 in Thackeray Christmas Bks.(1872) 127 To put forth certain opuscules, denominated ‘Christmas Books’.
1885 Bookseller July 649/1 His customers refused to pay a shilling for a tiny opuscule which should have been sold for sixpence.
1910 Encycl. Brit. I. 550/2 The opuscule (4th century) known as Alexandri magni iter ad Paradisum, a fable of Eastern origin directed against ambition.
1975 Times Lit. Suppl. 19 Dec. 1508/3 Frederick Forsyth has taken a rest from his blockbusting semi-documentaries to throw off this pleasing opuscule about a young RAF pilot flying home from Germany at Christmas.
1991 Jrnl. Islamic Stud. 2 191 In various fragments and opuscules Pascal outlined two different ways of reaching the truth.
* from dictionary.com
syncretism (noun): noun \SING-kri-tiz-uh m, SIN-\
1. the attempted reconciliation or union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.
2. Grammar. the merging, as by historical change in a language, of two or more categories in a specified environment into one, as, in nonstandard English, the use of was with both singular and plural subjects, while in standard English was is used with singular subjects (except for you in the second person singular) and were with plural subjects.
This artful procedure was known as syncretism, from a Greek word meaning something like "joining together." One of the champions of syncretism had been Mahatma Gandhi, who never went anywhere without his three sacred books: the Koran for Islam, the Gospels for Christianity, and the Bhagavad Gita for Hinduism.
-- Catherine Clément, Theo's Odyssey, translated by Steve Cox and Ros Schwartz, 1999
Origin of syncretism
Syncretism comes from New Latin syncrētismus, from Greek synkrētismós, "union of Cretan cities against a common foe" and first appears in Plutarch's Moralia in the first century A.D. It entered English in the early 1600s.