Diary 5/24 to 5/26/22: Literary Curiosities; Liberty Valance; “I’d do well to…”; dreams; Jane Eyre binge; Venom: Let There Be Carnage; making smoothies.
I did go to the library and checked out some books, including Ann Brontë: Agnes Grey, which I have started reading. The author lived only to age 29, but published two novels in her lifetime. This is her first. I also got Charlotte Brontë: Shirley and Jo Ann Beard: In Zanesville, from 2011, the latter on a whim.
In the sale section I acquired William S. Walsh: Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities in a library binding for $0.50. It’s from 1892 and in great shape. You can buy a paperback reprint from eBay for about forty bucks. 1100 pages of tiny print, great for browsing but not of much use as a reference, since there are very few authors listed in the “Index of Cross-References.” For example, the listing for “Darwinism” (no listing for “Darwin”) refers the reader to “Angels, On the side of the.” The origin of the quotation, “I’m on the side of the angels” is attributed to Disraeli when he was speaking of Darwinism. I suppose this information could be useful in certain rare circumstances, though I doubt that I’ll keep the book very long. I spent a couple hours last night browsing the book, but did not find anything worth noting. It is available for download through the Internet Archive (archive.org).
I’ve seen three episodes so far of Jane Eyre (1983), a TV miniseries starring Zelah Clark and Timothy Dalton, from the BBC. Seems okay. I also recently acquired yet another Emma and Persuasion. I’m rather burnt out on Emma, but it’s one I haven’t seen and at $0.50 I wasn’t about to pass it up. I’ve seen a ton of Jane Eyres, but this is the first miniseries.
Long-awaited payday morning starts with a long waking dream, whatever my unconscious mind could make of the movie The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). As it turns out, my unconscious couldn’t make much of it. I find it interesting that I woke once in the middle, checked the bedside clock, and went back to “sleep” and found myself resuming the same dream. The dream ended with a scene with Edmond O’Brien staggering to his feet and sitting down at his desk in his ruined newspaper office; I was “watching” and asking myself, “Is that Edmond O’Brien or not?” As usual with such waking dreams, when my conscious mind gets too involved, it wakes me up. I remember thinking what a coincidence it was that the very movie I had dreamt about was on TV! Of course, I was still dreaming, and when I opened my eyes it came as a shock.
Why I fastened on this movie in particular is a puzzle, since I have always found it annoying—an adored “big” movie that I found inadequate because “too little action.” I suppose I saw it when I was fifteen. In checking this morning, I learned that it was the last black-and-white movie made by John Ford; I had dreamt it in color.
Near the end of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations. I’ll likely finish it today, but I also have committed to meeting Pablo at Food Maxx at 10:00 for grocery shopping. I started reading the Viking Portable Library North American Indian Reader.
I’d do well to a) not buy any chips or Cheetos; b) leave the TV off altogether; and c) focus on fiction writing. And while I’m at it, get KM published.
When my books exceed my shelf space, I lay the excess crosswise on top of the shelved books. I can see eighteen such while seated at my laptop. It’s often been worse.
Woke at 4:30 am, wrote a few sentences, and went back to sleep, or half-sleep. I spent most of the next two hours (if memory is correct) thinking about “Thessaloniki” and what it might mean. I imagined that it was a people, possibly in the area of Greece or France, and their bicycles had L-shaped wheels (essentially triangular). On waking at 6:30 I checked several references, the most useful being the Merriam-Webster Geographical Dictionary, which revealed that Thessaloniki is a “Department” of Greece and a large seaport. In looking at the map, I noticed a Mount Athos Monastic Republic in the Chalcidice peninsula. The 2022 World Almanac, under Greece, mentions an “autonomous monastic state” among the subdivisions. A disappointment was my recently-acquired Atlas of the Greek World, which has many dozens of maps for various purposes, but showing generally little detail.
Last night binge-watched the rest of the Jane Eyre miniseries. This was generally very satisfying and Timothy Dalton, who I knew only as James Bond in one of the movies I never saw, was really excellent as Rochester. It is unfortunate that he so towers over Zelah Clarke as Jane that their marriage scene seems almost ridiculous. He is more than a head taller. Clarke is effective but usually very subdued. This version of the story makes both Rochester and Jane seem quite cruel occasionally. Andrew Bicknell as St. John Rivers is also very effective in his repulsive-religious-fanatic role. I recognized many lines as likely being direct quotations from the book, and overall it seems very faithful to the book, which fans will appreciate. The cast otherwise is unexceptional in very limited screen time. The miseries of Lowood School are somewhat downplayed here, I think. If you want to spend five hours (311 minutes; 11 episodes at 28 minutes each) on this story, you could hardly do better than this modestly budgeted series. IMDB shows the time as “3h 59m”; perhaps a shorter DVD version? It scores 8.0/10, i.e., quite good. It’s not listed at RT. I think overall I prefer the Mia Wasikowska version, though I haven’t seen the Orson Welles version recently enough to compare it. I have yet to see a version that I’d call disappointing. IMDB lists a miniseries from 2006 which I haven’t seen; the trailer they offer is in German, though it’s a BBC production. The music sounds nice, i.e., an orchestra (unlike the version I’m reviewing, which mostly has whiny oboes).
Today I watched Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021), a wild ride which doesn’t make a lot of sense but is mostly fun while it lasts. Seemed a bit too long, and the vulnerabilities of the aliens were inconsistent, but it’s generally not productive to look for some things in, uh, such things. I found this a better all-around entertainment than the earlier Venom (2018). VLTBC rates 58% and 84% (critics and audiences, respectively) at Rotten Tomatoes, while V scored 30% and 80%.
Smoothie preparation this morning—blueberries, celery, apple, tomato, cilantro, orange juice, making two at once to save labor and cleanup, one destined for the fridge:
It was delicious, but I didn’t have room for either protein powder or oatmeal, which I like to include. So in the end it was much like just juice.
Copyright 2022 (text only) by Alan Carl Nicoll
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