Dawn Reader

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

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 144

1. AOTW: I actually had a couple mobile candidates this week (people pulling out in front of me--unsafely so, causing the Old Man to brake--and hard), but on Saturday evening a clear winner emerged. A four-way stop. Two cars facing each other. The approaching driver had reached the intersection first, so I let her (yes, HER) go first, as per the law, and then I started ahead. Then she swerved left in front of me, never having employed her turn signal, a device, I know, that's very hard to figure out. (Duh.) Nearly hit us. While I cried aloud: "A winner! A winner!"

2. I finished a couple of books this week.

     - The first was Michael Chabon's 2007 novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union, an alternative, what-if? novel about the situation in Israel after World War II. What's happened: The battle for Israel was lost, and so many, many Jews had to flee, a large number of them settling in Alaska, in Sitka, where they have their own police force (among other things)--not to mention a U. S. Congress that would be happier if they just, you know, went somewhere else.

Our hero is Meyer Landsman, a sort of archetypal hard-nosed, outside-the-box detective (think: Harry Bosch in the Michael Connelly thrillers). His marriage has broken (his wife now outranks him in the police force), and he's living in a seedy hotel, where a murder occurs in another room. He's on it--with a good friend and partner, Berko Shermets, a very large and powerful American Indian (think of Henry Standing Bear in the Longmire novels--NOT the Netflix series, in which Henry is much smaller).

Well, they soon uncover a Dark Conspiracy involving the Holy Land, and ...

Great fun to read. Clever. Original. Exciting. Amusing.

I loved the final sentence: Landsman calls a reporter: "I have a story for you" (411). And does he!

Visitors to this site know I'm working my way through all the Chabon novels I'd not previously read when I embarked on this journey. Having a Grand Old Time. Each one is so different from the others.

     - Next ... the latest by Elizabeth Strout (Anything Is Possible, 2017), who won the Pulitzer for Olive Kitteridge (2008) and who dazzled me in her book last year--My Name Is Lucy Barton.

This new book is deeply related to Lucy Barton in style and content. It is more or less a collection of nine stories, each of which includes roles for Lucy (minor, major, allusive only), each of which involves characters from her life--her siblings, classmates, etc. It is so carefully crafted that you are both expecting the appearance of characters you know--and surprised when it happens.

I especially liked the character of Patty Nicely, a high school guidance counselor (who also appears in one form or another in the other tales)--an overweight woman some kids call 'Fatty Patty." But she redeems herself (with them, with herself) by essentially "saving" Lila Lane, a high school student with talent but with a corrosive home environment, a young woman whose appearance in the book is, well, just plain nasty.

Rural Illinois is the setting for much of it. And I was turning pages like a maniac.

3. Last night, we went to Kent to see The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. We'd both kind of liked the first one (clever--didn't take itself too seriously--cool characters, including a wise-cracking raccoon and a sensitive little arboreal creature), but we were less charmed with this second one. Yes, there were some good interactions among the characters--some clever dialogue. Fun to see Stallone and Kurt Russell.

But ... the humor, for me, was too often juvenile--poop and penises. Over and over again. And I thought it went on and on and on and on. I could've cut 30-60 minutes from it, and no one would have noticed. And ... these superhero/comic-book films are so similar: explosions, explosions, explosions. Scores and scads of people dying (including many innocents). I think it's just, well, boring. Of course, I'm not exactly in the "target audience," am I? (Link to film trailer.)

4. Some final words: from my various online word-of-the-day providers ...

     - from dictionary.com

keysmash noun [kee-smash]
1. a random string of letters and symbols typed out on a keyboard or touchscreen, used to signal intense emotion in written communication: The photo of the actor was accompanied by a heartfelt keysmash.
2. the action of typing out such a random string of letters or symbols: Keysmash was the only appropriate response.
A close relative of “I can’t even” is the keysmash, a string of actual gibberish — asdf;lkl, maybe — meant to signal that the typist has become so excited that she has lost control of her fingers.
-- Amanda Hess, "When You 'Literally Can't Even' Understand Your Teenager," New York Times, June 9, 2015

Keysmash combines the words key (referring to a keyboard) and smash “to hit or strike (something) with force.” It entered English in the mid- to late 1990s.

     - from wordsmith.org

masstige (mas-TEEZH, -TEEJ)
noun: Products that have the perception of luxury, but are relatively affordable and marketed to masses.
adjective: Relating to such a product.

A blend of mass market and prestige. Earliest documented use: 1996.

“Mr Clarke said Treasury Wines had established its luxury and masstige wines in China to compete with French and Italian wines.”
Uncorking US Market; The Gold Coast Bulletin (Southport, Australia); Feb 15, 2017.

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