1. AOTW--Human Error. This week--as I've written here and on Facebook--I got a very worrisome result on a blood test--then, a couple of days later, inquiring more from my oncologist, I learned from his reply--with his deep regret--that he'd entered the wrong value, and the actual one was much, much better. So ... I do not condemn him, not at all (I recall that stuff about being the first to cast a stone), but I do confer AOTW status on the whole idea of hurtful error. We've all done it--all of us--but our regrets and our apologies often don't repair--or reinstate. So ... all we can do is do our best, realizing that we will screw up now and then--and that we can thank the AOTW for it!
2. I finished two books this week.
- Just last night, home from La La Land (see below), I read the last dozen pages of Wilkie Collins' A Rogue's Life, a novella he published in 1879, but, as he says in his "Introductory Words," he had set the finished manuscript aside for more than twenty years before he lightly revised and finally published it.
It's in the first person--and the first sentence ... ? "I am going to try if I can't write something about myself." Such a modest sentence, eh? It's the story of Frank Softly, a young man who grows up to be a bit of a ... rogue (see title!). I love this early passage about his school experiences--and what he learned (for "public school" read "private school"--the Brits are different):
… I was sent to one of the most fashionable and famous of the great public schools. I will not mention it by name, because I don’t think the masters would be proud of my connection with it. I ran away three times, and was flogged three times. I made four aristocratic connections, and had four pitched battles with them: three thrashed me, and one I thrashed. I learned to play at cricket, to hate rich people, to cure warts, to write Latin verses, to swim, to recite speeches, to cook kidneys on toast, to draw caricatures of the masters, to construe Greek plays, to black boots, and to receive kicks and serious advice resignedly. Who will say that the fashionable public school was of no use to me after that? (2-3)
Afterwards, he gets involved in a number of illegal activities--including faking paintings by masters and counterfeiting. In the latter occupation, he falls for the head counterfeiter's daughter, pursues her (while fleeing the Bow Street Runners--cops), and ... read it! It's a lot of fun.
As I've written before, I'm reading my way through all of Collins' novels, pretty much in the order he wrote them. Next ... The Dead Secret, 1857!
- I also finished another novel by Richard Ford (whose complete works I'm also reading), the third in his series about Frank Bascombe, The Lay of the Land (2006). In the first of the books, The Sportswriter, we learn that FB was a talented young writer of fiction who just couldn't seem to do anything beyond book #1 (which was well received) and so segued into sportswriting for a major magazine (think Sports Illustrated). In novel 2, Independence Day, Frank has given up sportswriting and is now selling real estate--a profession he has stuck with as we find out early in the pages of The Lay of the Land.
Frank, now in his fifties, has some issues in this one (as he had in the previous ones). His recent wife, Sally, has run off with her ex- (whom she thought was dead; he ain't); he's opened his own real estate office near the NJ shore--he has a partner--he has some odd clients (as he did in Independence); he now lives on the shore, and he's got some particularly obnoxious neighbors; he is still dealing with his daughter and son (the latter, Paul, is a handful); his first wife, Ann, is back in the picture. He's also getting older ... he's starting to wonder about it all
As usual, I was dazzled by Ford's technique--moving around in time as if he were in a skating rink--backwards, forwards, sideways, in the air, on his butt. Astonishing.
3. Joyce and I have been Netflixing our way through the films of the Coen Brothers, first to most recent, and this past week it was time for Fargo, 1996, which I remember seeing with her when it came out--and loving it. (Link to trailer for the film.) We very much enjoyed it again (cringing at the moments when every person ought to--think: wood-chipper with something other than wood in it) and admiring Frances McDormand's performance. The Coens make gentle fun of the accent in our north central plains--not sure how that would go over today in our more PC culture. The Coens are so adept at giving you new ways to look at things (yes, look at them), so good at "going against the grain"--a pregnant cop vs. some vicious killers! Out in the wilderness! Fun to see again.
4. Last night--off to Kent Cinema to see La La Land with Joyce. On the way over, we talked about how it could not possibly be as good as we expected it to be--as we hoped it would be. And in the first part of it (especially the song-and-dance with her roommates, early), I thought, Uh oh. But as it went on, it ... got to me.Sure, Gosling and Stone are not Astaire and Rogers, but they did all right. But what really "got me" was the whole thing about our dreams, our lives. Sometimes (usually?!) we don't achieve our dreams, and if we do, some others dissipate. This is what we see in the lives of these two characters. "Success" and "Failure" are siblings--non-identical twins. (Oddly, I thought Emma Stone was better in those auditions shown in the film (she was a wannabe actress, continually attending auditions) than she was in her role! Though she was fine--not condemning her.) (Link to film trailer.)
5. Final Words--some interesting ones from my various online word-of-the-day providers.
- from dictionary.com
laterigrade \LAT-er-i-greyd\ adjective
1. having a sideways manner of moving, as a crab.
Not with the blunt and clumsy directness here set forth, but with concealed approach, with laterigrade advance and retrogression, and with antennal deftness as of an emmet feeling its way in the midst of supposed enemies.
-- Henry Christopher McCook, The Latimers: A Tale of the Western Insurrection of 1794, 1897
Origin of laterigrade
Laterigrade derives from later-, the inflectional stem of the Latin noun latus “side,” and the Latin noun and combining form gradus “a step, pace,” a derivative of the verb gradī “to walk, step.” The word is rare, used to describe the locomotion of spiders and crabs. It entered English in the 18th century.
- from wordsmith.org
fard (fahrd) noun
verb tr.: 1. To apply makeup.
2. To embellish or gloss over.
From Old French fard (makeup), from farden (to apply makeup), of Germanic origin. Earliest documented use: 1450.
“This morning, during breakfast, the tourist’s overnight companion -- a young Arab woman with kohl-farded eyes -- taught him the four recognized stages in the ripening of a date.”
Len Gasparini; A Demon in My View; Guernica; 2003.
“Tell why it is not safe to be farding in a car while you drive.”
Charles A. Collat: A History of Mayer and Our Vision to be First Choice; Seacoast Pub.; 2005.
BTW: "a demon in my view" (look up a few lines) is the final phrase in Poe's great poem "Alone"; here's the whole thing ... and--yes!--it's one of the ones I've memorized ...
From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From ev’ry depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me roll’d
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it pass’d me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—