Currents: 3rd Monday of June (2013)

For the last month or so, self has been posting entries to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges.  It’s been a lot of fun.  She has a bona fide excuse to look through her photographic stash, and she can post random images that don’t seem to have anything to do with each other.

She’s been leaving links to the photo challenges on the WordPress Daily Post site, in the “Post a Comment” section.  Before, she’d see her comments, almost as soon as she posted.  But in the last week or so, she hasn’t seen any of her comments posted, at all.  So, last weekend, she finally put in a help request to WordPress, and the response came back today:  Stop numbering the posts that feature entries to the Weekly Photo Challenges.  In other words, she has to group all of the Photo Challenge entries, instead of posting one by one as she’s been doing.

Awww, what would be the fun in that?  Self likes looking at the photo prompt with fresh eyes, every day! She decides she’ll just stop posting her entries to The Daily Post website, but keep them going on her blog.

Anyhoo, self is still not even a quarter of the way through Sister Carrie, by Theodore Dreiser.  She started a week or so ago, after she decided to return Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard, without finishing.  Granted, Dillard is quite a fabulous writer.  But she goes into rhapsodies over praying mantises and frogs and self just isn’t in the right head space for such paeans, not at the moment.  She has to clean her entire house without the help of good Mauricio, she has spider bites on both arms (from pushing into the deepest, dankest corners of her garden), and Sole Fruit of Her Loins and Jennie are coming up in a few days.

To tell you the truth, self adores Sister Carrie.  It’s the first book she’s adored since Little Heathens:  Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression, by Mildred Armstrong Kalish, the book she began reading in Trieste.  Before getting to Sister Carrie, before even she attempted Pilgrim at Tinker’s Creek, she put aside The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James.  That novel, she only got about 20 pages in.  If a character’s interior monologue does not strike her as helpful, self doesn’t see why she has to devote any more of her summer reading time to it.  After all, summer will be over in a couple of months, and then it will be fall.  The evenings will grow longer, the house will shut down and turn cold, and before you know it, there will be nothing to call her outside except for the bare branches of the apple and cherry trees.  Sand will run out of the hourglass soon enough:  Who can afford to spend weeks reading Henry James?

And, Lord, the movies this summer are pretty insipid.  She saw “Man of Steel” with The Man yesterday, and all she can definitively say is that Henry Caville has a very nice cleft chin and gorgeous eyes, and that Amy Adams ups the entertainment quotient of any picture she is in by about 900 %.  Self almost fell asleep during the apocalyptic confrontation (Everything’s apocalyptic in summer movies, ever since Michael Bay).  What. A. Waste. Of. Michael. Shannon.

The previews of the coming attractions did not exactly fill her with joy, as the movie that stars Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx is something she’d already seen, just a few months ago, with Gerard Butler performing the Channing Tatum character.  And she hates seeing all those masses of bodies streaming down a wall in the scenes they keep showing over and over, from “World War Z”.  The only upcoming big-budget movie she is interested in seeing, to tell the truth, is the one with Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger.  Because Armie Hammer knows how to play against type.  She thought he was hilarious in “Mirror, Mirror.”

Ah, where were we?  Poor Nigella Lawson was choked in public by her husband, and afterwards had to kiss him (which convinced no one that the aforementioned choking was simply a joke).  And self read in Vanity Fair how the model who was killed by Oscar Pistorius ended her life in a teensy toilet, huddling with hands crossed over her chest (even though this was not the way she was found; Pistorius carried her to the foot of the stairs of his house and that was how the police found her.  Afterwards, and before the police came, he washed his hands because they got all bloody while carrying her).  The policeman who was in charge of the initial investigation, who later resigned, told Vanity Fair that all the injuries suffered by the woman were on her right side, and one went through her shorts.  So she was pressed against the door, unusual for someone who was presumably using the toilet.  In addition, the door to the toilet had been bashed in by Pistorius; he used a cricket bat.  Self thinks we can all agree that is a pretty terrible way to go.

Finally, here is a passage from Sister Carrie, which reads as though it could have been written for Vanity Fair:

When some one of the many middle-class individuals whom he knew, who had money, would get into trouble, he would shake his head.  It didn’t do to talk about those things.  If it came up for discussion among such friends as with him passed for close, he would deprecate the folly of the thing.  “It was all right to do it —  all men do those things —  but why wasn’t he careful?  A man can’t be too careful.”  He lost sympathy for the man that made a mistake and was found out.

Further down, on the same page, Hurstwood muses about his wife:

Owing to his order of mind, his confidence in the sex was not great.  His wife never possessed the virtues which would win the confidence and admiration of a man of his nature.

Self doesn’t know why she finds the Hurstwood point of view fascinating, but she does.  Also fascinating are Dreiser’s descriptions of the burly city of Chicago as it was in the late 19th century, at the cusp of the American century.

She thinks she read in the Introduction (by Claude Simpson of Ohio State University) that Dreiser wrote the novel in something like three months.  It met with several rejections, but was finally published in 1900.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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