Dawn Reader

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

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday Sundries, 148

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)

This one is a very complex--and highly implausible--story about a religious cult, about some secret oil drilling going on in remote Wyoming. But I've come not to worry too much about the plots in these books--or in the books of other fine mystery writers/TV writers: Instead, I gradually become drawn into the characters' lives and relationships, and those are what I find I care about the most. In the books, Walt's ongoing relationship with Vic(toria), his deputy, is much more, uh, carnal than in the TV show. And much more complicated (like most relationships between men and women).

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.
Most of the pieces are short, pithy, wry, self-deprecating (see above), humorous--and emotional. He writes about Legos and religion, about comic books and Captain Underpants, family and failure. In one essay about his former father-in-law (Chabon's been married twice), he comments about a photo from back during his first marriage--"looking as if I knew what I was doing" (94). I can relate to that--as most of us surely can.

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.)

Film trailer..

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 , whence Modern English “toe,” except that human beings cannot interdigitate with their toes. Interdigitate entered English in the 19th century.

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