1. AOTW: I had a couple of candidates this week, but the Clear Winner emerged just yesterday. I was at the gas station on the corner of busy Rt. 91 and Norton Road. There's a stoplight. But the AOTW seemed to believe that stoplights are for wusses, so while I was getting gas, he, heading west on Norton Rd., decided he didn't want to wait for the light and zoomed through the gas-station lot, instead, about 40 mph, taking the hypotenuse over to Rt. 91. I'm glad I was looking at him: He missed me by only feet--and when I say "me" I mean me, not my car!
2. As some of you know, I recently did a series of three posts about an odd portion of a bookshelf in my study ("Self on a Shelf"). I just noticed, though, that I failed to mention one of the items (see pic below).
Dead center, in the foreground, is a yellow pin. The large print on it says POE MUSEUM. (Inside the O is a raven ... wonder why?) And on top it says Richmond; below, Virginia. I got that button when Joyce and I visited that museum on Friday, June 11, 2004--one of our summer trips to see a bunch of literary sites--and there are a lot of Poe-related ones in Richmond. The Allans adopted him there after his mother died (Dad was long gone somewhere ... no one's sure), and he grew up in the city. Anyway, the museum was great, and I got that pin--as well as about 500 other things.
3. I finished just one book this week--reading too many long ones right now! Richard Ford's 2012 novel, Canada, revisits the terrain he used in his earlier works--the West. Montana, in particular. It's narrated fifty years after the events when the narrator was fifteen years old and living in Great Falls with his parents. Things are not going well financially, and Dad decides, Hey, let's rob a bank! (The son is unaware of these preparations between Dad and reluctant Mom.) So ... off his folks go to pull the job in North Dakota--and, of course, they're quickly caught and head off to prison.
And our narrator, Dell, goes to Canada (see title!) to live with some acquaintances, principal among them a guy named Arthur Remlinger, who runs a hotel in a small town. Dell works there at the hotel (and does some other jobs--e.g., helping geese hunters)--but doesn't go to school. Then ... he discovers a dark secret in Remlinger's life ... and the plot roars to its conclusion.
Ford is so damn good--and I'm sad that I'm nearing the end of my journey through his complete works. He has somehow found the key to the human heart--to all of our hearts--and roams about in them making discoveries and observations that are deeply emotional, often shattering, always true. And there is a flow to his prose, his plots. Things just seem to move along "normally"--until, of course, they don't.
4. Good News/Bad News
- GOOD: This morning, in Heinen's (local grocery store), I ran into a former student whom I'd taught in seventh grade, 1967-68. I've seen him, oh, a half-dozen times since. Today he approached me, and I called him by name! (What a memory!) I even remembered the names of his brother and sister.
- BAD: This morning, shaving before we headed out, I stopped before the first stroke and tried to remember: Do I start with a down- or an up-stroke? I've been shaving the exact same way since the early 1960s, and today I could not remember what that way was! I tried a down-stroke (I always begin on the left side of my neck, by the way--that I remembered) but knew immediately that that was wrong. Now ... will I remember how to do it the next time? (I'm bearded and shave only my neck and my upper cheeks, in case your curious--twice a week: Thursday, Sunday. Habit, habit, habit-- / A most predictable rabbit.)
5. We saw the wonderful film Moonlight on Thursday night--we realized it was going to be in Kent only a week, so off we went on a weeknight. Not crowded, by the way. Joyce and I both loved it--a three-part story about a young African American; we see him in boyhood, youth, young manhood. And his dawning awareness that he's gay. It's a love story in many ways--learning to love yourself as you realize you love another. And it's a fairly stark look at the "streets"--at the drug culture, about how even good people can be drawn into it.
The performances--by all--were stellar. We've seen two films with just astonishing performances by young boys--Lion and now this. Amazing. (Link to film trailer.)
Joyce and I were talking about how absurd a "Best Picture" Oscar is. Those nominated this year are so different from one another--have different aims, accomplish different things. Calling one "best" is a bit much, I think.
6. Streaming the most recent season of Portlandia. Don't think I've ever seen a series more odd--and more fun to watch. (One episode, with Louis C.K., is a dazzler.)
7. Last Words--Some words I liked from my various online word-of-the-day providers.
- from Oxford English Dictionary
brumation, n. A state or condition of semi-dormancy exhibited by reptiles and amphibians in response to cold weather, characterized by lethargy and a decrease in metabolic activity. Cf. aestivation n. 3.
Brumation differs from hibernation in the degree of dormancy and the metabolic processes involved.
Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymon: -ation suffix.
Etymology: < classical Latin brūma winter (see brumal adj.) + -ation suffix
1965 W. W. Mayhew in Compar. Biochem. & Physiol. 16 103 The term brumation is proposed to indicate winter dormancy in ectothermic vertebrates that demonstrate physiological changes which are independent of body temperature.
1976 Amer. Zoologist 16 731/1 A typical female [of the salamander Desmognathus ochropheus] emerged from brumation in April with reduced lipid reserves and enlarged ova.
1996 D. Wagner Boas 44/2 Brumation is more common in animals living in areas where winter temperatures do not remain below freezing.
2015 Hays (Kansas) Daily News 5 Apr. b4/5 With warmer weather, more snakes are coming out of brumation.
- from dictionary.com
whiffler \HWIF-ler, WIF-\ noun
1. a person who frequently shifts opinions, attitudes, interests, etc.
2. a person who is vacillating or evasive in an argument.
Ay, ay; he's a whiffler, but a good man on a sea-elephant.
-- James Fenimore Cooper, The Sea Lions; or, The Lost Sealers, 1849
Origin of whiffler
Whiffler has a sense that is now sadly obsolete, “one who smokes tobacco,” dating from the early 17th century. Its current sense dates from the mid-17th century.