Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 124

1. AOTW: Any other driver whose move forces you to brake--hard, and that means you, Little Green Toyota who shifted lanes yesterday without looking ...

2. On New Year's Eve we went over to the Cafe Tandoor in Aurora (a NYE habit in recent years) for an early dinner, then back to Hudson Regal to see Fences, which is based on an August Wilson play that for a number of years was "summer reading" for the incoming juniors at Western Reserve Academy. Teaching that play, I got "caught up" in Wilson, read all the other plays in his 20th-century cycle, went to Pittsburgh to visit the August Wilson Center, and on and on ...
The two principals--Denzel Washington (who also directed) and Viola Davis (reprising their roles on Broadway in 2010)--were excellent, as were the other cast members, for that matter. It did remind me more of a filmed play than filmed film.  (Remember the American Film Theater years ago?) They retained lots of dialogue--which American film audiences have grown less and less fond of in recent decades, preferring explosions and flesh-torn-by-bullets. So that was an ... adjustment. But it captured its era well and maintained the absolutely wrenching scenes that are painful enough to read, let alone to witness. Link to trailer for the film.

3. I finished a couple of books this week ...

     - As some of you know, I'm (slowly) reading my way through the novels of Wilkie Collins (1824-1889), a prolific writer of stories, plays, novels--a friend of Charles Dickens, etc. I'd already read his two best-known works (The Woman in White, The Moonstone) before I commenced this journey, but it's a journey I'm already enjoying, even though I've read only three additional works now (at 10 pp/night it takes a while!).The one I just finished is Hide and Seek, a story that has a secret at its center--the identity of a wonderful deaf-and-dumb girl who has been living with a circus family. Another family, seeing her there, believes that she needs a, uh, better environment, and so they unofficially adopt her (with her current caretaker's permission), and all is going well ... the new family members are kind, sensitive, and love the little girl--"Madonna"--profoundly.

And then a young man enters the tale, a young man who wants to be an artist (the father of the girl is one), and one night, in a tavern, he sides with an odd stranger named Mat in a brawl and earns Mat's great devotion and gratitude. Mat is an ... odd duck. He traveled throughout North America for years--and managed to get himself scalped in a battle; he now wears a sort of skullcap to protect himself--and the eyes of those who encounter him.

Well, the story rolls along; we learn who Mat really is, who Madonna really is, etc. (It's not what you may be thinking!)

Here's a cool Collins sentence about Mat's mind:

Although the machinery of Mat’s mind was constructed of very clumsy and barbaric materials; although book-learning had never oiled it, and wise men’s talk had never quickened it; nevertheless, it always contrived to work on—much as it was working now—until it reached, sooner or later, a practical result. Solitude and Peril are stern schoolmasters, but they do their duty for good or evil, thoroughly with some men; and they had done it thoroughly, amid the rocks and wildernesses of the great American continent, with Mat. (259)

     - The second book I finished was Michael Chabon's new novel, Moonglow. I almost didn't buy/read this book because I didn't really care--at all--for the previous one, Telegraph Avenue (2012), which I had to force myself to finish. I've really loved a lot of his work--the book and film of Wonder Boys especially--so I'd been disappointed in Telegraph Avenue.

But not Moonglow, a very good novel that I read eagerly. It's a multi-generational novel--but principally the story of the narrator's grandfather, a man involved in the US space program, early on, and so the book deals with political and cultural and scientific events that were much in the news when I was in junior high and high school. I could relate. (Sputnik occurred on October 4, 1957, the year I was in eighth grade.)

Chabon--like some other writers I admire (Richard Ford, Richard Russo, Joyce Carol Oates)--is absolutely astonishing in his ability to move around in time: now, then, then, now. Seamless, some of it (making readers need to stay alert!).

Moon imagery (no surprise--see the title!) is pervasive in the book--many referees, comparisons--even names of characters. Oh, and the title comes from Glen Miller's song "Moonglow." Here's a YouTube link to Benny Goodman performing it. From Wikipedia (!) I just learned the music for this 1933 hit was by Will Hudson and Irving Mills, the lyrics by Eddie DeLange.

(Cleveland fans of a certain age will enjoy the allusion to Ghoulardi on p. 182.)

We also learn, quite a way into the novel, that the narrator's name is Mike Chabon. (!!)

A sentence I liked: I reflected that it seemed to be in the nature of human beings to spend the first part of their lives mocking the cliches and conventions of their elders and the final part mocking the cliches and conventions of the young. (386)

And this--reflecting on how our space program was aided by former Nazis (esp. Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), a man I recall seeing on TV during the US space shots. The narrator says that nobody wanted to hear that America's ascent to the moon had been made with a ladder of bones (395)--this a reference to the Nazis' use of slave labor (much of it Jewish) to build their rockets.

An excellent novel, one I would read again, just to figure out how he did it!

4. Some Final Words--some words I liked on my various online word-of-the-day providers.

     - from dictionary.com
lunation  \loo-NEY-shuh n\
1. the period of time from one new moon to the next (about 29½ days); a lunar month.
After that we'll have to wait for the next lunation--that is, for four weeks.
-- Arthur C. Clarke, Prelude to Space, 1953 
Origin of lunation
Lunation comes from Middle English lunacyon, lunacioun, which in turn comes from Medieval Latin lunation-, the stem of the noun lūnatiō, a derivative of Latin lūna meaning "moon." The word entered English at the end of the 1300s.

     - from dictionary.com
senectitude \si-NEK-ti-tood, -tyood\
1. the last stage of life; old age.
Call me lazy, if you will; write me off as a dilettante lurching toward senectitude.... For me, this was simply a retirement project more purposeful than golf, more engrossing than whittling.
-- Austen A. Ettinger, "About Men: The Retiring Kind," New York Times, May 28, 1989  
Origin of senectitude
Senectitude comes from the Medieval Latin noun senectitūdō meaning "old age," which in turn comes from Classical Latin senectūs, a derivative of the noun senex meaning "old man." Senectitude entered English in the late 1700s, more precisely, in 1796 in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels.

     - from Oxford English Dictionary

bling, n. and adj.
A piece of) ostentatious jewellery. Hence: wealth; conspicuous consumption.
Forms: freq. reduplicated, esp. in early use.
Origin:Probably an imitative or expressive formation.
Etymology:Probably imitative (compare e.g. ping v.2, ting v.), apparently representing the visual effect of light being reflected off precious stones or metals. Compare:
2000 Daily News (Los Angeles)(Nexis) 13 Jan. (Sports section) You know what bling-bling is? Imagine a ring, hitting the light, the diamonds, ‘bling-bling’.
 slang (orig. in the language of rap and hip-hop).
1999  ‘B.G.’(title of song) Bling bling.
1999 Dallas (Texas) Morning News(Nexis) 21 Dec. 2b A bling-bling is jewelry... He was referring specifically to his Super Bowl rings.
2000 Billboard 26 Aug. 25/2 The era for black social commentary songs had passed. Everybody's talking about bling-bling.
2001 Washington Post 12 Aug. a1/1 It's all about the money, the bling-bling. It's more addictive than any drug that's out there.
2005 Heat(S. Afr. ed.) 19 Feb. 29/1 Look at the heavy bling he's already wearing on his left arm.
  Ostentatious, flashy; designating flamboyant jewellery or dress. Also: that glorifies conspicuous consumption; materialistic.
1999 Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 18 Dec. b11 (caption) ‘It's a Bling-Bling Christmas to the Y2K.’.. White and coloured lights surround the home.
2000 Houston (Texas) Press(Nexis) 6 Jan., Although he is quick to say he's not rolling in the dough (‘yet’), he does have some bling-bling action going on.
2000 Newsweek 9 Oct. 58 The vogue for songs about pimping and the ‘Bling Bling’ mentality.
2001 Top of Pops Mag. Sept. 8/3 Y'all definitely have to have a bling chain with a charm! I had one specially made, I keep it highly polished!
2002 Independent 2 May (Rev. section) 12/4 I'm not talking bling-bling stuff that's just about showing wealth; I'm talking about elegant, beautiful work.
2004 Time Out 25 Aug. (Carnival Guide) 19/2 You felt safe, there were no guns, no bling culture, no heavy drugs, just good times.

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