1. AOTW: Well, we have several co-winners this week, all of whom did the same thing: cutting out in front of me, forcing me to brake (in some cases--hard), all in service of their compulsion to save seven seconds on their journey. May their roads lead straight to Hel--ena, Montana.
2. I finished three books this week.
- The first, via Kindle, was another of Craig Johnson's novels about Walt Longmire (whose adventures as a contemporary Wyoming sheriff--very unlike those in the books--are on Netflix these days). This one was A Serpent's Tooth (2013). Johnson drew the title, of course, from that famous line in King Lear, as the devastated old king is cursing the betrayal of a child:
How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is
To have a thankless child! (1.4)
So ... excessive plots be damned! Give me people!
- I finished two by Michael Chabon, as well--and I have now read all of his books (and have become a major fan). The first took me about fifteen minutes to read. It's a children's book, The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man (2011--wonderfully illustrated by Jake Parker).
The superhero himself narrates the story--tells us about his various powers ("I can shoot positronic rays out of my eyeballs.") and some adventures. I'll not tell you more--or about the "Awwwwww" ending. I'll say only that Chabon's a better writer for adults. Not that I didn't enjoy the story (I did); I just thought it needed another run by his editor--or by a professional writer of stories for children. His diction, in my view, is just a little ... off ... for early and/pre-readers.
- The other Chabon book is a wonderful 2009 collection of essays, Manhood for Amateurs: The Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father, and Son. One of Chabon's great appeals throughout these pieces is his modesty--his willingness (almost eagerness at times) to admit his failures in all three categories he identifies in the subtitle.
And a sentence that really resonated with me: "What explains almost all the ills and wrongnesses of the world, cataclysmic and trivial, [is] the failure of imagination" (108).
I laughed in an essay about his deciding to carry a man-purse.
And I loved this, too: "... each of us serves as a constant source of embarrassment to his or her future self" (200). True for me, I will tell you that!
3. And then ... a pretty bad movie, The House (Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler), which we saw last night in Kent. I knew it probably wouldn't be much good--but I had a popcorn craving. So, you know, better to eat it in the dark where it didn't really happen, you know? I mean, when the lights came up, it was gone. Someone else (Joyce?) must have consumed it!
Anyway, it was a pretty grim story about a family suddenly in need of funds to send their daughter to Bucknell (she's lost a promised scholarship). So ... they join with a wacko buddy, recently separated from his wife, and open a casino in his house--illegal, of course.
The script was ultra-predictable--near the end, in fact, I was whispering characters' lines before they said them. (Joyce was both amused--and not.)
Not a lot of others were there, confirming the appropriateness of my self-loathing.
4. Final Word--a word I liked this week from my various online word-of-the-day providers:
- interdigitate verb [in-ter-dij-i-teyt]
1. to interlock, as or like the fingers of both hands.
Linguistic history is so much harder for two primary reasons. First, branches can reconnect, interweave, interdigitate, borrow from and filter through one another.
-- Stephen Jay Gould, "Talk Gets Around," New York Times, December 11, 1988
Interdigitate is a derivative of the Latin noun digitus, most commonly meaning is “finger” and secondarily “toe” and finally, as a measure of length, “the breadth of a finger, inch.” The Latin noun derives from the Proto-Indo-European root (and its variants) deik-, doik-, dik- (also deig-, doig-, dig-) “to point, point out, show.” One of the Germanic derivatives of doik- is taih(wō), which in Old English develops into tahe and then tā, whence Modern English “toe,” except that human beings cannot interdigitate with their toes. Interdigitate entered English in the 19th century.