1. AOTW: You are nameless, but you've nearly bashed my car any number of times. Where? (In large commercial parking lots.) Why? (Because you ignore the painted lines that indicate the difference between parking spaces and entrance/exit lanes.) You just drive straight toward your destination as if those lines are marks made by aliens who couldn't find a cornfield.
2. A booky week. I finished four this week--something that happens occasionally because I'm always reading a half-dozen or so simultaneously, and sometimes, you know, I finish a few the same week. Like this one.
- I've slowly been reading my way through the Longmire mysteries by Craig Johnson. (Walt Longmire is a contemporary county sheriff in Wyoming.) I started reading them when Joyce and I got hooked on the TV series, but (as I think I've said before about them), the books are unlike the TV show in some significant ways--in the novels Longmire's friend Henry Standing Bear is big and muscular (on TV he's slight--and portrayed by Lou Diamond Phillips); in the books Longmire gets involved with his female deputy, Vic (hinted at only on TV). There are many more.
Anyway, this week I finished (via Kindle--which I've used to read all of them) the fifth in the series (Hell Is Empty, 2011), a very outdoorsy novel. In a blizzard Walt Longmire pursues some bad guys (escapees) into the mountains where he comes close to death himself. One of the "characters" in the book is Dante's Inferno, which actually performs a life-saving function at one point.
The book was okay--and I pretty much like them better than the TV series now, principally because the novels are fairly independent of one another--nothing like the show, which connects everything and thus forces the story to travel along increasingly bizarre and implausible pathways.
- I also finished a book I was supposed to read in college but just couldn't find the time to do so, you know? Herman Hesse's Siddhartha (translated into English). In the first 30-40 pages it was pretty much what I expected--a young man in search of ... But then the young man becomes an adult, a middle-ager, an old man. He has a sexual education, among other things. I did enjoy the book, but could it be because I was completing some long-overdue homework?
- I also finished The Word Detective (2016), a memoir by John Simpson, who, for many years, was the chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. It's a mix of his own story--his arrival at the OED, his rise, his personal situation (marriage, dealing with a very challenged child)--and the story of the evolution of the OED from a very traditional publishing venture to its current lively online presence.
Simpson pauses continually to talk about the history of some words he's used in his text--from cyber to transpired to launch to magazine and on and on. He also tells us a lot about the word fuck, which should immediately increase the sales of this book!
Old friend and former Harmon Middle School colleague Jerry Brodsky alerted me to Word Detective (somehow it had gotten by me), and I ordered it and read it promptly. And so, once again, I'm grateful to Jerry!
- Finally! I finished Independence Day (1995), the sixth book by Richard Ford. (As I've said here, I'm reading all of his books, in the order of publication.) Independence Day is his second novel about (and narrated by) Frank Bascombe, who once wrote a well-received collection of short stories, could not move on from that, became a sportswriter (The Sportswriter, 1986, was the first Bascombe novel). And now ... he's a real-estate agent. As you might imagine, his personal life remains in mild turmoil (whatever that is). He and his wife, Ann, have split; he's involved with a woman named Sally; his son, Paul, is now an obnoxious adolescent (they take a road trip to Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame; things don't work out too well); he's dealing with a very indecisive couple on a home purchase; he's involved with a wacko in a business venture--a root beer stand; and on and on.
Once again, I was so impressed with Ford's ability to move so effortlessly (?) through time. Frank's mind is not linear (neither is mine; neither is yours), and Ford shows us, with Frank, how our minds are anywhere and everywhere. Past, present, future--all are one. And all at once.
I've already started the 3rd Bascombe novel--The Lay of the Land (2006)--and much has changed; much has remained the same in Frank's life. More about it next week!
3. We've been enjoying, via Acorn TV, The Brokenwood Mysteries, an Australian series. (I wrote about this last week.) But I am wearying of the "device" that the writers are employing. Each episode deals with a sort of different subculture in the Australian small town (near the sea): golfers, rugby-players, country music fans, etc. Come on, guys, switch it up now and then!
4. Last words: A couple of words I liked this week, words that arrive via my various word-of-the-day online services.
- from dictionary.com
murmuration \mur-muh-REY-shuh n\
1. a flock of starlings.
2. an act or instance of murmuring.
They'd whirl and wheel in the sky, turning fast and coming around, blackening as they blocked the light and then spreading out and thinning as they changed direction in long sweeps. A murmuration; that's what it's called.
-- Joseph D'Lacey, The Book of the Crowman, 2014
Murmuration-, the inflectional stem of the Latin noun murmurātiō, derives from the verb murmurāre “to mutter, make a gentle sound, roar, grumble.” Murmurāre is a Latin reflex of mormor-, murmur-, a Proto-Indo-European onomatopoeic root that appears in ancient Greek mormýrein “to boil noisily (of water),” Sanskrit marmara- “rustling, rushing,” Lithuanian murmėti “to babble, mutter,” and German murmeln “to mumble, murmur.” The word entered English in the 14th century.
- from the Oxford English Dictionary--for you Tolkien fans ...
Orcish, adj. and n.
Forms: 19– Orcish, 19– Orkish. Also with lower-case initial.
Origin:Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: orc n.2, -ish suffix1.
Etymology: < orc n.2 + -ish suffix1.
A.adj. Of, belonging to, or characteristic of orcs (orc n.2); suggestive of or resembling an orc.
Originally in the works of J. R. R. Tolkien (see quots. 1955); now usually in fantasy novels, games, etc.
1955 J. R. R. Tolkien Return of King App. 409 The Orcs..developed as many barbarous dialects as there were groups or settlements of their race, so that their Orkish speech was of little use to them in intercourse between different tribes.
1990 Dragon Mag. Mar. (Dungeon Suppl.) p. K/2 An untouched bottle of a rare orcish spirit, ‘Ogmar's Finest’.
1993 Warhammer Armies: Empire 29 From the mountains of the east come the Orcish hordes: green-skinned savages with the hearts of beasts and the fury of madmen.
2001 Telegram (St. John's, Newfoundland)(Nexis) 15 Apr. 18 As part of her army, Stryke, the Orcish commander of the Wolverines, has had enough of her brutal reign.
B.n.The language of orcs.
1955 J. R. R. Tolkien Return of King App. 409 The older tribes..had long used the Westron as their native language, though in such a fashion as to make it hardly less lovely than Orkish.
1986 J. A. Johnson J.R.R. Tolkien iv. 196 Faults Tolkien's narrative style while praising the fragments of Elvish and Orcish.
1990 Games Rev. Jan. 48/1 A six-and-a-half page glossary of orcish.
2001 Sunday Mail (Queensland)(Nexis) 5 Aug. 79, I can't speak Orcish, but a useful phrase of Klingon has just come back to me.