Highly Over Rated

My goal is to read a book every week. In the past ten years I have not yet been able to accomplish the feat. This tear I might get to 42 books read, but perhaps could have made it to 50 if not for books like the latest one. I also have a goal to read books by authors whom are highly touted as being great, but whom I have never bothered to read. My latest read is The Sound and the Fury by one WIlliam Faulkner, who is proclaimed to be one of the greatest novelists of our time. Bull shit I say. I was over a hundred pages into the story, if you could call it that, before I began to pick up any semblance of a plot and dialog that I could understand. The best I can cipher is that this story takes place in Mississippi during the depression years and tries to chronicle life on a farm next to a golf course. The farm is staffed by ex-slaves or descendants of slaves. The language is at best an attempt to mimic the language of people who never really learned English from any one other than a slave. Faulkner does do a fairly good job of writing dialog between uneducated blacks in the nineteen twenties. In order for me to understand what I was reading I had to sound out the bubonic words in my head, and then try to translate the sound into english grammar. A book that should have taken me two days to read took seven. Add to that time some procrastination, since I wasn’t anxious to move ahead.

About eighty pages from the end, Faulkner begins writing about adults who at the beginning were toddlers speaking baby talk eubonics. The story began to read like a real story, but then it got all dicey and screwed up at the end and my conclusion is that he must have fallen off his chair drunk before he could finish it properly.

My view on this book is this: If you see William Faulkner on your child’s reading list give the child license to ignore it. I don’t think that will happen because of one word used throughout the story, nigger. It won’t pass censorship by the politically correct police in high schools. It is however, recommended by the Oprah Book Club.

Talk-over Debate?

Thank you Lord! The weather is kick ass beautiful, and the temperature is downright civilized. I took advantage by a attending the funeral mass of a friend’s mother Josephine. She is eighty-four years and old mother of seven children all still talking to each other, six boys and one girl. The family attending took up a third of the available seats.

Upon landing at home, I dressed into my garden clothes and headed for the pond. One of the filters is clogging and the water level is down four inches. With the temperature in the seventies I decided to take the pump out for the winter and to clean both filters. That took about a half an hour. With so much beauty left in the day I kept rolling and began raking muck out of the water while the level is low. That took me an extra hour and a half. I used two kinds of rakes this time, first a leaf rake to skim out the decaying leaf matter, and then the garden rake to yank out the surviving water lily foliage. I had never used that rake before and expected it to do some serious damage, it did. The result is a bucket full of water lily roots which I now have to deal with over the winter. Oh well, I thought about thinning the lilies out a bit since they covered ninety-five percent of the pond surface. To keep a pond healthy there only has to be seventy percent coverage. At that coverage the alga bloom is in control. Less than that and the algae takes over. Frankly, I would rather look at out of control lilies than at algae.

After cleaning the muck and depositing it into the blue barrel for recycling I was done petered out, and hungry. I had a keto friendly snack of cheese and ham roll ups and a tall glass of berry flavored ice-water. Now this body has rebelled and is stuck in surf the internet mode on the internet.

The Vice presidential candidates debate this evening and I intend to watch the fight to the bitter end. I only hope my candidate destroys the opponent. Hopefully, it won’t be a talk-over type of debate. I’d really like to hear both side’s points of view. I hate when the candidate speaking gets talked over by his opponent or worse by the moderator.

I finished reading The Lost World, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I was not disappointed. The author managed to get the expedition out of the pre-historic valley in a believable, but exciting way. The grand finale was the report to all the cynics who were anxious to dispute any and all claims the expedition made about their findings. Not having photographic evidence did’t help the expedition, in lieu of pictures they chose to bring back living proof. They unboxed one of the creatures they found living in the valley, a pterodactyl. The proof seemed to shut up the disbelievers and excite the supporters. I recommend this story to anyone who likes adventure. * * * * * and surprise endings.

The Lost World

The latest e-book I am reading is The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle. Yes, he also wrote stories with Sherlock Holmes. It is an old story published in 1912, but because of a modern day movie called Jurrasic Park it seems familiar. If you ask me, Steven Spielberg stole the entire plot for his film from this book. All he did was to make the creatures come to life for the movie. Don’t get me wrong Spielberg’s accomplishments in showing us stories with realistic animatronics and green screen techniques is nothing to scoff at. His genius has made him a multi-millionaire if not a billionaire.

What impresses me about this story is the writing. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle does a masterful job of creating images with words. I find myself on the edge of my seat wriggling with anticipation as the story unfolds and the plot becomes filled with action, suspense, and excitement. The writing of many of the old books I read during this COVID season were stodgy and stiff and lost me in proper English grammar and phraseology of the nineteenth century. Lost World hasn’t done that to me. Since I have not completed the book I cannot comment on the ending, I still don’t know what it is.

One problem I am having at this moment is a lap-top battery that is dying. When the battery suddenly comes to the end of its power, the screen goes black and all reading, writing, or computing is finished. At least with a hard copy book, and a simple book mark, one can resume reading almost instantly. All I do is pick up the book, (i.e. after finding it) and open to the mark. On the computer, one has to wait until the battery is recharged then boot the machine before reading may commence. As long as there are old people alive the need for hard copy books will thrive.

Since the boomers are all aging they too will learn the simple joys of holding a book and flipping pages. That is so much simpler than swiping the touch pad with two fingers, only to learn that the curser has gone to sleep or is not on the book page and needs to be found before the swipe thing works. I forget though that evolution will cause boomers to grow a phone out of their palm and an extra thumb on each hand to facilitate texting.

Lessons From the Oldies

When I was in college one of my English Profs suggested a method to find a topic to write about. I won’t bore you with the details but it is simply to make a list of topics. Period. Then select one and begin. That is what I am doing right now. When I hit the very first key I had no idea what my topic would be for today. I still don’t, but eventually it’ll kick in and I will start pounding keys at a great rate.

I spent a few minutes reading other peoples BLOGS today. It always amazes me as to the variety. Some are so simple yet so entertaining, others are eloquent and just plain confounding. Some writers write words, words, and more words. Usually these are eloquently phrased words, and sometimes I even understand what they say. In most cases they read like an eighteenth century novel. The author is speaking English but with a different twist. It makes for very hard reading. During COVID I began reading books that I downloaded off the internet for free. The operative word there is “Free.” Many of them are extremely old. Like “South, the Story of Shackleton’s Expedition,” or “The Pioneers,” by James Fenimoor Cooper, or The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana. The oldest and toughest to understand is the Kama Sutra.

Reading stories like these gave me a greater appreciation for our modern language. One thing I noticed throughout the works is the author’s use of vocabulary. I found myself constantly switching to the dictionary to learn the definition. In most cases I had a sense of the word, but not the exact meaning.

Currently, I am being visited by a friend who migrated to our country from the Baltic States. Frequently, during our conversations she will stop me and ask what does that mean? Every time, I have to stop and think about how I will explain the meaning of a word without using it in the definition. Most times I am able to finds simple words that I can use to explain. In rare cases I find myself going to the dictionary for help. Recently she asked me the difference between woods and forest. Again, I was challenged, but came up with the difference; “woods” pertains to a small grove of trees, while a “forest” is endless acres and acres of trees.

Another thing I am gleaning from these ancient stories is a better understanding of the hardships people lived with. For instance, In “Pioneers” by Cooper, the harsh temperatures of northern New York during the winters of the late 1790’s was explained in detail. Just cutting the amount of wood that was necessary to heat a small cabin during the cold months required continuous back breaking labor. Cooper also pointed out that if locals continued to cut down centuries old trees that soon there would be no more trees to cut. He further realizes that the trees they were using for heat take a hundred years to grow. He relates a similar concern about fishing. Instead of using the native Indian philosophy of, if you are hungry catch a fish, they used the more modern approach of let’s use a long net, sweep it through the lake and catch a bunch of fish. He questioned how long it would take the pioneers to fish the lake empty. Today, we ask the same questions not only about our inland lakes but about the world’s oceans as well. Thankfully, we have been smart enough to regulate fishing seasons and to put limits on fish populations.

All in all, I have enjoyed reading the oldies, but didn’t like the difficulty which I encountered trying to understand the written words and grammar of the age.

The most disappointing book I read was the Kama Sutra. Having heard so much about the work beforehand I expected something like an ancient Playboy. I’m sure in it’s day, it was that, but in my day it was not very stimulating, and I had trouble with the philosophy that led the authors to write this tome. I am also certain that the ladies of the world consider this to be a male chauvinist work because it is written from a man’s point of view with little regard for that of the woman’s

Here I am seven hundred and thirty-one words after beginning a post that had no direction at all in the first paragraph, and that is all I’m going to say about that.

RUSH

At my age I never thought I would take the time to listen to a rock band, but I did. A few months ago I was in conversation with a friend at a pre-COVID gathering and we discussed road trips. The friend suggested I read a book by Neil Peart. “Who?” I asked. Please spell the name. Being really deaf I couldn’t’ make out the sound. P E A R T he spelled. “Just like it sounds,” I said. “Who is he?” He is the drummer for the rock band RUSH. “Who are they?”

Geddy Lee Neil Peart Alex Lifeson

“They were popular back in the eighties and nineties” was the reply.

“I never heard of them.” I made a note on my phone and several weeks later I ordered the book from the library. Then COVID hit and all things went into hiding including the library. A week ago, I got notice from the library that I had a book waiting. I was surprised when I picked it up that it was by Neil Peart. I had forgotten that I ordered it.

The book is called “Far and Wide, Bring That Horizon To Me,” by Neil Peart. I am now educated on who he is and what RUSH is. I can’t believe that after so many years I am still in the dark about this band. The book is a celebration of the band’s fortieth year together, their last road tour, and Neil’s last big motorcycle trip. The interesting thing about Neil is that he can’t stand spending his life on a tour bus while on tour. To make his life interesting he charts road trips in between concerts and rides the route on his BMW motorcycle. He has one travel companion who rides with him (Safety in Numbers).

To honor their forty years together RUSH did forty concerts on the R40 tour. The rationale was that the members are aging, and afraid that if they didn’t do it now they wouldn’t be capable of doing it later. Aging does have a way of changing minds and joints, and such. There is nothing like a guitarist with arthritic fingers and a drummer with tennis elbow. Then again it might have led to a completely new sound.

As I searched for photos of Neil and RUSH on Google Images I spotted a caption citing Neil’s obituary. What? I just found out about the guy and he died. Yes, he died this January 11, 2020 at age 67, four years after he published the book I just read. He must have learned of his brain cancer shortly after that last road trip. The Glioblastoma took him out of our lives. His goal in life was to be a person that people looked up to. I know I am one of his converts. I want to lead my life as he did, always learning, always seeking new information, always exploring the back ways of the world.

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