Dawn Reader

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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

On Being Long in the Tooth

In a post a couple of days ago, I noted (in snarky fashion) about how Tom Cruise (whom we'd just seen in the latest Mission Impossible installment) was a bit "long in the tooth" to be hanging from helicopters and fighting Bad Guys near the edge of an alpine cliff. I should talk: he's 56; I'm 73! The only helicopter ride I can look forward to is Life Flight.

And then, later, I wondered about that expression--"long in the tooth"--and thought I'd write about it today. But in the night I woke up with the suspicion that I'd already written about it on this site. I couldn't be sure--which, of course, is one of the problems with being long in the tooth, which I manifestly am.

Okay. Long in the tooth ...

Here's what my Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (Harper & Row, 1977) says about it:

... originally applied to horses because their gums recede with age. It has long been applied to humans, both male and female. Thackeray used the expression way back in 1852, so it is well established in British English.


Let's check the Oxford English Dictionary ... [pause while I check] ...

Well, the OED confirms the equine origin--but finds an earlier reference;

1834   T. Medwin Angler in Wales II. 182   A brown gawky leggy Rozinante, very long in the tooth, and showing every bone in his skin, was generally ridden by his courier.

Now here's the weird coincidence--the Twilight Zone-y connection. Thomas Medwin (1788-1869). He was a second cousin of Percy Bysshe Shelley; he had been a schoolboy with him (though he was four years older than the poet); he later introduced Shelley to Edward John Trelawny, who arranged for the construction of the boat that capsized in July 1822 off the coast of Viareggio and drowned the 29-year-old poet. Also drowned was Edward Williams, a Medwin friend whom he'd introduced to the Shelleys; later, Medwin wrote a biography--The Life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1847). Mary was not happy about it.

In his biography--which I read back in June 1998--he has a sentence that now makes me both smile and grimace: The water, he wrote of his cousin, was his fatal element (316). Duh.

Well, this post has displayed some typical writing from someone who's long in the tooth, eh? Rambling on and on about some guy from the 19th century who has only a slender connection to what I'm supposed to be writing about?

Okay. Another connection ...

In a couple of weeks I'm having oral surgery--an implant to replace a worn (and decaying) tooth with a ... longer one. After that surgery I will actually be longer in the tooth than I am now.

Anyway, as I've gotten older, I've become more and more sensitive to disparaging comments about the elderly. Just this morning I overheard in the coffee shop some younger people chortling about the confusions of the elderly, about the need to, you know, put them away for their own safety, etc.

At that moment I wished I'd been really long in the tooth--saber-tooth-tiger-long--so I could ... you know ...

Monday, July 30, 2018

Getting Closer ...

Pic shows Castle Frankenstein--near
Darmstadt, Germany--
April 29, 1999,
the day I visited

I'm getting closer now to Frankenstein Sundae day--the day I upload to Kindle Direct the memoir I serialized here for several years, the memoir about getting obsessed about Mary Shelley and her famous novel, the memoir about chasing her all over the place, chasing her family members and friends and ... it seemed endless.

I thought I was ready about a week ago, then realized I wasn't--and needed to put the whole text through yet another round of editing (by me).

There were some problems--some questions:

  • Repetition. Because I had serialized the memoir on this site (and because I had done so over a period of years), I could not assume, as I was serializing, that readers would remember, say, something I had alluded to six months earlier. So ... lots of repetition in the blog posts (there were, by the way, 358 of them; I was posting on M-W-F, though not religiously so).
  • Information. How much I is TMI, you know? I could not assume that readers would know much about Mary and her world (I certainly didn't when I began the project back in the early 1990s), but how much should I tell as I went along? How much was necessary? How much was interesting only to me? How much was not a river but a swamp?
  • Digressions. Oh, am I susceptible to these! One thing reminds me of another. I'm writing along about MaryWorld, and the next thing I know, I’m talking about a boyhood home in Amarillo, Texas, in 1952--which, by the way, is almost exactly a century after Mary died (1851). (See what I mean?) Sometimes, I know, these detours can be enlightening--even, maybe, a relief from the rest of the text--but they can also be, well, dispiriting, can cause a reader to wonder: What in the hell is this book even about?
  • The Impossibility of Keeping Up. New books and articles and information were appearing all the time as I worked--and films. This year alone (2018) there has been a Niagara of publication because of the 200th anniversary of the original publication of Frankenstein
    • I tried to keep up--and couldn't, of course. But I did try to read the most important new works--see the films--read the essays and reviews.
    • As a character says of an inept TV announcer in Kurt Vonnegut's great story "Harrison Bergeron": "He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him." (Link to online text of the story.) Sometimes, I realized (all too often) that God didn't give me enough ... (Always nice to be able to blame a deity for one's own shortcomings!)
So ... I'd say in a couple of weeks I'll upload the thing, knowing quite well that I'll wish I'd edited yet another time (or twenty). This time, by the way, I'm editing digitally only; previous times, I've printed the Whole Damn Thing and worked with a pencil. Not this time. This time I am contemporary!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 197

1. AOTW: This is a group award this week--an acknowledgement that AH-ery is often a team effort. The award this week goes to all drivers who make me hit the brakes--not for an emergency (I forgive! I forgive!) but for the sake of convenience (their convenience): They want to turn left as they approach me--and can't wait; they want to pull out onto the highway from a parking lot--and can't wait; they want to ... you know. So, all you (millions of?) AOTW winners this week: Your check is in the mail.

2. I didn't finish any books this week--except for the book I reviewed for Kirkus (and I ain't allowed to say what that is: Kirkus reviewers are listed in front of the publication, but all reviews are anonymous).

I have a good excuse, though: I had cataract surgery on my right eye on Tuesday (it seems to have gone well); left eye will be a week from this coming Tuesday. So ... I am now in that "transition" phase: My glasses are no longer quite right; my glasses-less sight is no longer quite right. So all of you are looking quite well to me, I'd say--a bit fuzzy but well.

I remember nothing of the surgery but some flashing lights--some voices (no words I recognized). Whatever the drug was, it knocked me out for a whole day--lots of good naps. But I had no pain, no discomfort. I have to wear sunglasses outside for a week, but, as I told my friend Chris at the coffee shop the other day, I think I look a lot like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.

3. Speaking of Tom Cruise ... Joyce and I went over to Kent to see the latest Mission Impossible (nukes, evil guys, fast-moving transpo, remote locations, last-second heroics ... you know). The Kent Cinemas, by the way, are remodeling, and we sat in one of the remodeled spaces, using recliners to watch the film--a bit soporific, I fear (the chairs, not the film, which hardly ever stopped to allow characters to eat, drink, sleep, visit the outhouse, breathe). And my legs went to sleep. (I told you it was soporific!)

Anyway, I like seeing films based on old TV shows I used to watch. When the theme music starts, I get a little ... nostalgic (okay, lachrymose). Evanescent youth and all ... (Link to film trailer.) Speaking of "evanescent youth": Tom Cruise. A little long-in-the-tooth to be hanging from helicopters and martial-artsing guys near alpine cliffs? (Not that I couldn't do such things, you know!)

4. I had a great time at the coffee shop on Friday morning this week. A long conversation with Susan Peterson, whom I taught in 8th grade during the 1995-96 school year over at Harmon Middle School in Aurora--the last full year before I retired (which occurred in January 1997). Susan was an outstanding student--gifted in many ways (she was in the last play I directed in the spring of 1996--my final 8th Grade Farewell-to-Harmon Show)--and she continues to perform in Austin where she now lives with her husband and 1.5-yr.-old daughter.

She is looking to come back into the area (her parents still live in Aurora) and is looking for a good MFA program. She's back "into" writing (another of her many gifts), and I am thrilled for her. And, oh, the stories she has to tell! She's been all over the place, all over the planet ...

Naturally, neither of us took a picture ... it's so, you know, inconvenient these days ... Grrrrr.

5. We've started streaming a new series (via Acorn), Hidden, which I read about in the New York Times a week or so ago. Wales. Cops. Darkness. You know ... link to some video. Link to NYT piece about it.

6. A little sadness in the Dyer household this week. Tomorrow--if things had gone well--we would have left for Stratford, Ontario, for our annual week of play-bingeing--eleven plays in six days was our custom. We've gone up every summer (the first week of August) since 2001, but this year? Health and uncertainty, uncertainty and health. You have to book a bit in advance (room, tix), and when I usually book (November), I just couldn't pull the trigger. And it's a good thing I didn't. The next few weeks I have have more eye surgery, bone scans at Seidman Cancer Center, oral surgery ... and Joyce has a pile of things, as well.

So ... when August is gone (and if no other problems arise), we may go down to Staunton, VA, for a few days to see some Shakespeare at the American Shakespeare Center there; it's awesome--the theater space is a replica of Blackfriars (though somewhat smaller), the indoor venue the Bard and his company used in London.

We loved our weeks in Stratford ... but ... sigh ...

7. Last word: a word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from dictionary.com

hypnopedia [hip-nuh-pee-dee-uh] noun
1. sleep learning.
QUOTES: Years of intensive hypnopaedia and, from twelve to seventeen, Malthusian drill three times a week had made the taking of these precautions almost as automatic and inevitable as blinking.
-- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, 1932
ORIGIN: Hypnopedia is first recorded in Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World (1932), and the word may well be a coinage of his. Hypnopedia is a compound word formed from the Greek nouns hýpnos “sleep” and paideía “child-rearing, education.” Hýpnos is a regular Greek development of the Proto-Indo-European noun sup-nos, from the root swep, swop-, sup- “to sleep.” In preclassical Latin the noun swep-nos becomes swop-nos and finally somnus in classical Latin. The Germanic equivalent root, swef-no-, becomes swefen “sleep, dream” in Old English and sweven in Middle English, e.g., in Piers Plowman and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Paideía is a derivative of the noun país (stem paid-) “child.”

Thursday, July 26, 2018

101 Poems I've Loved (and Memorized) + Other Doggerel & Wolferel

I have just uploaded to Kindle Direct a little volume that collects the pieces I've been posting on Facebook and on my other blog--Daily Doggerel. The collection runs from March 27-July 16 this year.

The lowest price Kindle allows me is $2.99--so that is what it will cost you. You don't need a Kindle device--just a smart phone or tablet; download the Kindle app; order the book when it becomes available (a couple of hours from now?).

Meanwhile, here's some of the introductory material ...

To my mother,
Prudence Osborn Dyer,
September 9, 1919–March 10, 2018

Who loved poetry …

Table of Contents


And here we are again—I’ve led you to the precipice. Where I’m about to shove you off yet another cliff, and as you flail your way down (in slow motion, of course), you can try to grab hold of some lines I have tossed your way. Frail lines of verse, unfortunately. So you’ll probably hit the ground fairly hard. Sorry ’bout that.
This volume is but one in a series of books of light verse (sometimes very light verse) I have published on Kindle Direct in recent years. The inspiration for this one? Who knows? But I had just finished its predecessor (its cousin?)—a volume honoring 101 books I have loved in my life (from boyhood to now)—and so I thought I would do the same with 101 poems I have loved. And so the journey began.
A few reminders and caveats … For one, there is no hierarchy here. The poems appear in the order I thought of them while I was working on this volume, not in the order that I value them, not in chronological order, not in any other kind of order.
Also—all are poems I have memorized over the years. The earliest—“A Visit from St. Nicholas” (“The Night Before Christmas”)—is one I learned back at Adams Elementary School in Enid, Oklahoma, in the early 1950s for some kind of classroom Christmas program for the parents, and I recited it for them (fourth grade? I think so). Fortunately, I don’t recall how well I did. Or didn’t do. (Even more fortunately: In those pre-iPhone days not everyone as packing a video/audio device.) But … in recent years I have recited it during Christmas dinner for my grandsons, and they are now old enough (9 and 12 as I write this) that they contribute some of the stanzas, too.
Some other poems I “honor” here because I had to learn them for school assignments (Housman’s “When I Was One And Twenty” is one of them), but many of them are poems I required my own students to memorize when I was teaching English in middle and high school (yes, a meanie of a teacher!). So … Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” some Shakespeare sonnets, some poems by Longfellow and Stephen Crane and Dickinson and Millay … you know.
And then … here’s the weird part. While I was memorizing these poems along with my students (which made the subsequent quiz grading go much more quickly), I found myself slipping into some kind of … habit. (Some kind of madness?) I found myself wanting to—no, having to—memorize poems and more poems and more poems. As I type these lines today, I have memorized over two hundred and twenty of them—some very brief (William Carlos Williams’ “Red Wheelbarrow”), some very long (Millay’s “Renanscence”). Right now I have almost finished learning Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” Fairly long one. And a good one for an old guy to relate to.
Finally, some of these poems have immense emotional significance for me. I recited Shakespeare’s “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments” at our son’s wedding in 1999 (I have recited it again for them on each anniversary); I recited Millay’s “The Courage That My Mother Had” at the memorial services both for my wife’s mother—and for my own. On our wedding anniversary each year I recite for Joyce the Bard’s “When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men’s Eyes” and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee?” Others I learned for very personal reasons—at moments of high stress, worry, happiness … you know.
During the day I fill my idle moments rehearsing these lines … don’t want to lose them, not after all the effort  it took to cram them into my aging brain! There are so many now that I have to divide them up by days of the week …

In addition to the “101 Poems” there are also two other groups of lines here: some true doggerel (so light they threaten to rise like helium balloons from the page and float away), pieces I wrote quickly about quotidian things and posted on Facebook for my friends to Like but not read.
There’s also a group I call “Wolferel” (a word I proudly coined), lines that are sturdier than doggerel but not quite sturdy enough to batter down the gates to the Land of Poetry.
May you enjoy your journey through these inferior lines about superior lines I’ve loved and learned. I did not reproduce the source poems, by the way (copyrights, you know?), but you can easily find them all with a simple Google search. Which is what I did.

            — Daniel Dyer, 26 July 2018

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Good Lord!

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-92)
My grandfather Osborn loved Tennyson. Grandpa owned a leather-bound copy of his complete poems, a volume featuring Grandpa's neat annotations and many oft-turned and -considered pages. Later, that book came to me, and I recently passed it along to our son.

My great-grandfather Warren A. Lanterman died on March 30, 1963, the spring of my freshman year in college. Although he had been living the previous five years in Enid, Oklahoma, with his daughter and her husband (that Osborn grandfather I already mentioned), his body came home to Youngstown, where there was a service for him at the Lane Funeral Home, and he now lies, with his wife and son, in the cemetery near the Four-Mile Run Christian Church near Youngstown. Great-grandpa had lived on (and later operated) a farm on Four-Mile Run for  ninety years--though the farmhouse is now gone. As a little boy, I saw him behead a chicken there and learned--too early?--the reality behind "ran around like a chicken with its head cut off."

But I still ate one of its legs an hour later ...

Oh, and he was related to the Lantermans who ran Lanterman's Mill, still operating in Mill Creek Park in Youngstown. (Link to information about the mill.) Years ago, I mixed into my sourdough starter some flour from that mill. A little bit of family history in every bite ... My grandmother had--then my mother had--and now my brothers have an old painting of the mill hanging on the wall ...

Anyway--patience, patience--there is a connection here. At Grandpa Lanterman's service at the funeral home on a Tuesday, early in April 1963, the gentleman leading the service (a minister? a funeral home manager?) read aloud Tennyson's poem "Crossing the Bar."

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,

   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.

   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;

   For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face

      When I have crost the bar.

I thought at the time it sounded a little ... sing-songy, and with the sophistication of a fresh freshman, I dismissed it.

Years passed. Decades. Along the way some other Tennyson poems popped up in the stew of my life: "Charge of the Light Brigade," "The Kraken." Some others.

Between 1979-81 I taught freshman English at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio, and it was there (I think) that I first encountered Tennyson's poem "Ulysses." Required to teach The Odyssey, I was always scrambling around for things that ... related.

And "Ulysses" clearly did. The old hero has had enough of home life--he's ready to sail off on adventure again. (Loyal Penelope he dismisses with a single phrase "an aged wife"; how sweet and PC!). He is urging his (also old) followers to join him once more.

Years passed. And--as some of you know--I began slowly--then obsessively--to memorize poems. A few, a few dozen, a few score, a couple of hundred.

And just today I (sort) of finished "Ulysses" and recited it to Joyce, who, holding the text, prompted me when I needed it. (No comment about how many times she prompted me.) I will keep at it--will get it down more smoothly.  It's taken me weeks to get this close. My excuse(s): It's long; I'm old.

That poem moves me (despite that dismissal of loyal Penelope), and why wouldn't it? An aging man, refusing to surrender, until (and these are the poem's last words) "I die."

Works for me.

And by the way ... I learned "Crossing the Bar" a few years ago--and think about Grandpa Lanterman every time I mumble it in the coffee shop. (Other patrons nearby probably have other thoughts.)

Link to "Ulysses."

Hiram, Ohio 1957 (?)
Grandpa Lanterman is to the far left; I, to the far right (front)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 196

1. AOTW: I can't believe it, but this is the second week in a row I can't name anyone--anyone other than myself, that is. So ... maybe I need to get out more? Be a little more intolerant? Something?!!

2. Last night Joyce and I drove over to the Cinemark in Macedonia to see Ant Man and the Wasp. (Link to film trailer.) We normally don't go to many superhero films (we didn't see the original Ant Man), but our grandsons had been to see this one, had liked it, and so ... Gotta be able to talk with the grandsons, right?

Anyway, we weren't really looking forward to it all that much (the popcorn was a principal allure), but--surprise! surprise!--we both liked it far more than we thought we would. For one thing--it didn't take itself too seriously (lots of playfulness); for another, there were surprises (over-sized Ant Man sort of pushing a truck along like a scooter). And I loved when Michael Peña--drugged up with a "truth serum"--tells stories about some of the characters, and we see those characters doing what he's talking about, but they're all talking like Michael Peña. Clever. I laughed a lot during that sequence--and others.

Also nice to see principal roles by Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Laurence Fishburne--actors I've liked for a long time.

Oh, and the car chases through the streets of San Francisco? How can you not think of Bullitt--which I'm sure the director was! Steve McQueen, 1968 ... ah, yes ...

And now? I'm going to have to go to Netflix and order the first of the films ... [pause]  Did it!

3. This Tuesday I will have the first of two surgeries for cataracts. Right eye on Tuesday. Left in a couple of weeks. Reading has become difficult--night driving, too. So ... time to cut the old eyeball, I guess. Cleveland Eye Clinic in Brecksville ...

4. I finished one book this week, a "reading memoir" by I writer I enjoy, admire, and learn from--Edmund White. (I really liked his novel about Stephen Crane, Hotel de Dream, 2007). And I'm reading right now his novel Fanny: A Fiction (2003), a novel about Fanny Wright written in the voice and style of Fanny Trollope (Wright's friend and also the mother of novelist Anthony Trollope). I know a bit about these two Fannys because both were involved with Mary Shelley ...

This newest book--The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading (2018)--is part of a larger movement:  writers writing memoirs about their reading lives. I've read some very good ones. This one has its moments, but, sigh, it's not one of White's stronger works.

For one thing, he spends a lot of time--and I mean a lot of time--telling us about writers most general readers (like me) have never heard of. And summarizing their works, sometimes for many pages. He does not seem concerned--at least in these segments--about making any of it all that interesting to us. It's just sort of here it is; I like/love this stuff. Not enough in a memoir. We've got to emerge from such sections thinking there it was; I think I wanna read some of that. But I didn't feel that way--not at all. So ... my problem? Or his? Let's blame him since I'm writing this!

Still, White is a gifted writer--bright, witty, amazingly well read--so there are moments and sentences here that are well worth hacking your way through the thicker foliage. A few goodies ...
  • "If we are writers, we read to learn our craft" (1).
  • "What bliss to see all my thousands of books" (13).
  • "Memorializing someone has also been one of my inspirations ..." (73).
  • "My books are in such disorder that often I have to buy a title twice because I can't find it on my shelves" (109).
  • "Reading is a hobby that never grows stale--and an unpunished vice" (124).
And on and on he goes ...

5. We are nearing the end of season 8 of Vera. (They are currently shooting season 9.) Getting a little sad: We love that show ...

6. Last Word: a word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers.

     - from wordsmith.org

paragnosis (par-uh-GNO-sis)
noun: Knowledge that cannot be obtained by normal means.

From Greek para- (beyond) + gnosis (knowledge). Earliest documented use: 1933.

USAGE: “We have lived to the time of the village idiot, when we wisely heed the messages received from the fillings of our teeth. The method here, paragnosis. The voice on the wireless beam his? Whose?”

Michael Joyce; Of Two Minds; University of Michigan Press; 1996.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 195

1. AOTW: No one really stood out this week--on land, sea, air--so I will present the award to the default winner: me. I do AOTW-worthy things every week--might as well reap the benefit!

2. A sad day yesterday. I drove over to Amherst, Ohio, for the burial ceremony for a former student who'd been in my first class at Aurora Middle School--7th grade, 1966-67. His name was Dave Prittie--and he was a wonder. Artist, scholar, writer, singer, actor--he could do it all. He helped found the Aurora Youth Theater with his BF at the time, John Mlinek (whom I also taught my first year), and these two gifted young men wrote plays together, made films. Off they went to Kent State, where I saw them both in Hamlet--John in the title role, Dave as Laertes. After graduation, their roads diverged. Dave went to Yale Drama School, then to New York, where he continued his career in theater and in commercial art.  I have so many fond memories of Dave--and of his siblings (whom I saw yesterday for the first time in nearly half a century). His absence is an irreparable tear in the fabric of the world.

Here's a link to a tribute to Dave from the Flea Theater in NYC, a theater he helped establish.

3. I finished two books this week.

     - The first was by Ken Bruen, author of a series about Jack Taylor, a rough PI in Galway, Ireland. (There was a TV series about him, too--which we streamed--which I loved.) I'm reading the books now in the order that he wrote them, and this one is The Devil (2010), a novel that's more allegorical, I think, than the previous ones. Taylor--who battles alcohol addiction and a number of other demons--encounters what appears to be the Big Guy in this one--the Real Demon--the Devil (see title!).

So grotesque deaths occur; Taylor resolves to remedy them; and ... ? Guess what?

These books are fun to read (if a bit wrenching at times), and Taylor is a literate narrator (he loves to read). Interesting here to see his "demon battle" become almost apocalyptic.

I've already got Headstone (2011), the next one, ready to go on my trusty Kindle!

     - I recently read Rachel Kushner's most recent novel--The Mars Room (2018)--and was so impressed with this two-time nominee for the National Book Award that I resolved to read her earlier books, in order. And so this past week I read her first novel, Telex from Cuba (2008), a novel whose setting (Cuba in the late 50s as Battista is falling, Castro is rising) is based somewhat on Kushner's own mother's experiences of living in an American enclave in Cuba at the time.

The book is a dazzler. Firmly grounded in Caribbean history, the story shifts points-of-view (and even narrators) throughout--from young American kids growing up there to a mercenary Frenchman who becomes enchanted with an exotic dancer named ... Rachel K!

Years go by, too--and we also get glimpses of Hemingway in Cuba--some mention of Sartre, too. And--a funny look at Fidel Castro's sex life.

It was hard for me to believe that this grounded, clever (okay, brilliant) novel was Kushner's first time out. Can't wait to read the subsequent ones. (As I write, The Flamethrowers (2013) is on the way!)

4. Didn't go to a movie this week--but we learned from a friend that Endeavour (a favorite!) is back on PBS, so I fired up our PBS app and watched the 1st episode last night.

5. Later this afternoon, I'll be driving over to Welshfield for my 56th high school reunion: Hiram High School, 1962. The school itself is long gone (there's a new park there now on the site), but memories? Never! (Pic is of HHS, 1961.) Fifty-six years ... impossible ...

6. Last word: A word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from Oxford English Dictionary

boation, n. (boh-A-shun) bellowing, roaring; a loud bellowing noise. (arch. and rare after early 18th cent.)
Origin: A borrowing from Latin. Etymons: Latin boation-, boatio.
Etymology: <  post-classical Latin boation-, boatio (1629 or earlier) <  classical Latin boāt-, past participial stem of boāre to bellow ( <  ancient Greek βοᾶν to shout, roar, of uncertain origin) + - -ion suffix1.

1646  Sir T. Browne Pseudodoxia Epidemica  iii. xxvii. 142 Whether the large perforations..may not much assist this mugiency or boation.
1663  J. Heath Chron. Late Intestine War  iv. 812 The Thunder intermitting, as if it staid to receive and answer the reciprocated and ecchoed Boation and clashes of the Guns.
1713  W. Derham Physico-theol.  iv. iii. 134 To send their Mind at great Distances, in a short time, in loud Boations.
1844  S. K. Hoshour Lett. to Esq. Pedant  xi. 33 Lachrymations and boations became ubiquitous.

1989 Advertising Age(Nexis) 17 July 52 Bo is a bolide, a brilliant shooting star, making a boation, a thunderous noise.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Sunday Sundries, 194

Just a wee reminder: I've not been posting here often because I'm trying to finish Frankenstein Sundae (my memoir about chasing Mary Shelley around for a couple of decades). I think I'm now editing the final draft. I say I think because, well, I thought the previous draft was the final one! Anyway, if all goes well, I should be ready to upload it to Kindle Direct in a couple of weeks, and then I can get back to annoying you almost every day on this site.

Also--I've been trying to keep Sunday Sundries going each week, but last week, I felt yucky and ended up taking an afternoon-long nap instead!

1.AOTW: This week, this one was easy! Joyce and I were going down an entrance ramp onto Rt. 8 in Stow when, from behind us, the AOTW decided that she (that's right: she) could not wait another second to pass us. So ... though the entrance ramp there is short, she roared by us just as we were about to merge; other cars were zooming along Rt. 8, and it was only through some serious braking and cursing (and honking ... and, uh, gesturing) that we were able to avoid a crash. The AOTW soared on, heading, I suppose, to her AOTW Awards Banquet.

2. I finished a couple of books recently ...

     - The first was Nella Larsen's Passing, a novel from 1929 (when my mom was 10!), recently reprinted by Penguin Classics. It is the story of an African American woman who is "passing" as white, a woman married to a white racist who is unaware of his wife's background. One thing I really liked: The story travels to us through the eyes of this young woman's (Clara's) friend, Irene, who fails some very fundamental friendship tests as we arrive at the inevitable climax of this depressing tale.

Very well written, emotional. The author--Nella Larsen (1891-1964)--had a mixed racial heritage herself, and here's a link to a very clear story about her in the New York Times. She was a participant in the Harlem Renaissance.

Nella Larsen

     - The second I finished was Tyrant, 2018, a short disquisition by Shakespeare authority Stephen Greenblatt about the tyrants whom Shakespeare depicts in his plays--with focus on Henry VI (and the populist character Jack Cade), Richard III, Macbeth, Lear, Coriolanus, Caesar.

Greenblatt (who teaches at Harvard and has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award) waits until his Acknowledgements to declare what is patent throughout: He was alarmed by the 2016 election--and by what has ensued--and so he looked to Shakespeare for understanding and for remedy.

In his Coda to this short, focused book he says this--a note of some hope: "But Shakespeare believed that the tyrants and their minions would ultimately fail, brought down by their own viciousness and by a popular spirit of humanity that could be suppressed but never completely extinguished. The best chance for the recovery of collective decency lay, he thought, in the political action of ordinary citizens" (189).

Hope in the ideas and lines of the Bard, 1564-1616.

3. We saw the new documentary about Fred Rogers--Won't You Be My Neighbor?--up at the Chagrin Cinema a week ago and pretty much enjoyed it all the way through--though, for me, there were a couple of ... issues. For one: No one said anything too critical about Mr. Rogers. (He came across as a Saint ... and, who knows? Maybe he was.) For another, there was not the slightest reference to his big competition, Sesame Street.  When our son was growing up, he much preferred SS to MR, but what I always liked about Rogers is his lack of interest in high-tech stuff--just the plain, the simple, the effective. He was not all that good at doing things (except, as you'll see in the film, playing the piano!), and that was another way, I think, that he "bonded" with children--and their parents. Not intimating, that's for sure.

Now, there's one scene in the film when I almost completely lost it, almost became nothing but a puddle of tears. If you see the film, you'll know exactly which scene I mean; I will not say more--don't want to spoil it for you. I'll just add: I almost broke out sobbing aloud!

Link to film trailer.

4. We were uncomfortable in a very different way while watching the recent film (via Netflix DVD) The Birth of a Nation (2016), a film directed by and starring Nate Parker, a film that tells the story of Nat Turner, who led a brief slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831, killing a number of whites in retaliation for you-know-what. There was unease from the very beginning--watching the brutal treatment of slaves by their owners (beatings, rapes, degradation of all sorts), and, of course, the retaliation was hard to watch, too.

Nat Turner (captured and hanged) has been controversial for a long time (as has, say, John Brown, who also killed--and was also hanged--in his efforts to end slavery). But in the moral balance, here, there is no question, is there? People dragged across the ocean, chained, brutalized, forced to work in severe heat, live in squalor, separated from their families, endure beatings and rapes, etc. ... and we condemn a man who tried to fight back the only way he could?

The only real complaint I had about the film? At times it seemed a bit ... romantic? With and without a capital R. I know, I know: Love is Hope ...

But, oh, was it powerful! And so hard to watch. That voice in my head: Oh, what we humans will do to one another!

Link to film trailer.

5. Last word--a word I liked this week from one of my various online word-of-the-day providers:

     - from The Oxford English Dictionary ... a word that was very fitting last week ...

mafted, adj.    In predicative use: oppressed or stifled, esp. by the heat; exhausted from heat, crowds, or exertion.

Forms:  18– mafted,   18 mefted.
Origin: Of uncertain origin. Perhaps formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: maft v., -ed suffix1.
Etymology:Origin uncertain. Perhaps <  maft v. + -ed suffix1, although the verb is first attested much later, and is itself of unknown origin.
 Eng. regional (north-eastern, esp. Yorkshire).
a1800  S. Pegge Suppl. Grose's Provinc. Gloss.(1814) Mafted, overpowered by heat. York.
1898 Belgravia  Apr. 529 It's that warm in here, I'm fair mafted.
a1921  R. W. S. Bishop My Moorland Patients(1922) i. 7 He was very ‘mafted and moidered’ with such a sudden plunge into city dissipation, and only too thankful to return safe and sound to his moorland eyrie.
1973  F. Horner Dunnington  x. 69 It wor her weddin day: T'oose wor that full o' kelter an fooaks Ah wor arrished an mafted, an all.

2010  @lucyinglis 24 Feb. in twitter.com(O.E.D. Archive) Dear Lord—a fur coat on the Bakerloo line, she must have been mafted.