1. HBOTW [Human Being of the Week]: Yes, a new category--getting a little weary of all the AH-ery in the world (your world, mine, the Big World). So, every now and then, I'm going to honor here a Human Being--someone who did something ... human ... during the week. And here's the first: A few weeks ago our car was totaled at a four-way stop when a driver approaching from our left ignored the stop sign entirely and plowed through the intersection, hitting us so hard that his car shoved ours clear across the intersection and up over the curb. Yesterday, I was leaving the house after lunch to walk over to the coffee shop (visit #2 of the day!), and a car pulled up near our house. A guy got out--the guy who'd hit us. He'd come by to apologize (again--he'd done so at the site) and to make sure we were both okay. He said he was completely ashamed of himself, of his inattention, etc. I thanked him for his kindness, and as I continued my walk over to the coffee shop, I thought of a new award category!
2. Last night, Joyce and I drove over to Kent to see the latest Robert Redford film, The Old Man & the Gun, based on a true story (published in the New Yorker--I'm going to download and read it!) about a genial guy who has spent his life (when he's not in prison) robbing banks. His victims actually kind of like him--he's so polite, so happy. Danny Glover and Tom Waits are his accomplices; Casey Affleck is a cop pursuing him (reluctantly so, later on); Sissy Spacek is a woman he meets while fleeing the cops--gets involved with her.
It was old-fashioned filmmaking (which I love): lots of interesting dialogue, close-ups of our aging heroes, lots of irony and humor. Wonderful acting all the way through.
Near the end is a great montage of moments showing his sixteen previous escapes from prison ... so clever.
Link to film trailer.
3. I finished three books this week.
- One, via Kindle, is the most recent in Craig Johnson's great series about Walt Longmire, a present-day sheriff in Wyoming (some of the stories were adapted for a TV series, which you can stream, but that series bears a weak resemblance to the books).
The latest one--The Depth of Winter (released just a month ago)--picks up where the previous one (The Western Star) left off. At the end of that one, a Very Bad Guy kidnapped Longmire's daughter, Cady (an attorney), took her to Mexico, and this new novel shows Longmire in pursuit. Lots of action; some very bad things happen. But ... since the novel is told in the 1st person, we're pretty sure that Longmire is going to survive!
So now I have to grieve until another one appears ... I've read them all!
- Since writer Nathaniel Philbrick is coming to speak at the Hudson Library and Historical Society on November 7, I've been reading a few of his recent books that I'd not gotten around to (I've read most of his work).
- I read his new book first (the one, presumably, he's going to be talking about in Hudson): In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington & the Victory at Yorktown. The title and subtitle pretty much tell you what the story's all about--how the revolutionaries won the war--with enormous help from the French navy. It's pretty simple: no French navy = no victory in the Revolutionary War.
- One of the things that struck me here: how much of the fate of the war was due to the shifting winds and tides. And how much of the victory was possible because each side didn't really know what the other was doing--or even where they were--until they saw them. Washington, for example, had moved many miles toward Yorktown before the English were even aware of it.
- Also--for you Hiram College grads from the 1960s: Philbrick credits Hiram grad James Kirby Martin--an eminent Revolutionary historian now--both in his acknowledgements and in the bibliography. Jim is a long-ago "brother" in a local Hiram College fraternity--and current Facebook friend.
- The second was a very brief volume (I read it in two sittings): Why Read Moby-Dick? (2011). This is a very good general introduction to Melville's great work: Philbrick talks about the plot and development of the novel, about Melville's complicated friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne (15 years older that Melville), and about the enduring relevance of the book (which he calls America's "greatest").
- Speaking of Ahab, Philbrick writes about "how susceptible we ordinary people are to the seductive power of a great and demented man" (37) Hmmm ...
- I loved the final sentence, too: "This redemptive mixture of skepticism and hope, this gentle stoicism in the face of a short, ridiculous, and irrational life, is why I read Moby-Dick" (127).
4. A sad week for streaming: We finished all the available episodes of The Doctor Blake Mysteries and Unforgotten. Grief until more are ready for us to consume. We've started (via Netflix) a new series--Bodyguard. Watching, oh, about 20 min last night. TENSE ... well-done.
5. Final Word: A word I liked this week from one of my online word-of-the-day providers.
- from wordsmith.org (notice the Tolkien connection)
MEANING: noun: A happy ending, especially one in which, instead of an impending disaster, a sudden turn leads to a favorable resolution of the story.
ETYMOLOGY:Coined by J.R.R. Tolkien in a letter in 1944, from Greek eu- (good) + catastrophe, from kata- (down) + strophe (turning). Earliest documented use 1944.
USAGE: “The contrived eucatastrophe of Dennis’s play seemingly resonated with and satisfied the audiences.”
Alison Forsyth; Greek Tragedy and the British Theatre, 1660-1914; Theatre Journal (Baltimore, Maryland); Oct 2007.