Living in the land of Nod

Our internet was out for about 36 hours and, boy, did that throw a monkey wrench into my day! Thankfully, I had already written my post for Tuesday, so daughter #1 was able to schedule it for me. But without the internet I was limited in my activities as you can imagine.

I did buckle down and finish reading The Lincoln Highway, which I really enjoyed. (I thought the ending was fine.) For me, the narrative bogged down in the middle and some of the characters annoyed me a little, but on the whole it is a very good read and a welcome look back at life before television, the internet, iPhones, etc took over everyone’s life. The character of Billy, eight years old and an avid reader, is definitely not someone you would meet today–although I’m sure there are exceptions. In fact, it would be a good book for a lot of eight year olds to read (or to have read to them by a parent). They might learn something about “Heroes, Adventurers, and other Intrepid Travelers” who are not included in the Marvel Comic universe. You know, Achilles, Daniel Boone, Julius Caesar, Edmund Dantes, Thomas Edison…

This book will win no prizes, because its lessons are unpopular and old-fashioned, some are even canceled, but it is worth reading and probably re-reading.

I am of the opinion, Professor, that everything of value in this life must be earned. That it should be earned. Because those who are given anything of value without having to earn it are bound to squander it. I believe that one should earn respect. One should earn trust. One should earn the love of a woman, and the right to call oneself a man. And one should also earn the right to hope. At one time I had a wellspring of hope–a wellspring that I had not earned. And not knowing what it was worth, on the day I left my wife and child, I squandered it. So over the last eight and a half years, I have learned to live without hope, just as surely as Cain lived without it once he entered the land of Nod…That is, said Ulysses, until I met this boy.

There is an abundance of references–classical, literary, biblical–throughout the book. If you are like me, and you enjoy that, this book is for you. If you do not know your elbow from a hot rock, never mind.

Here’s an interview with Amor Towles. The first few paragraphs are off-putting–all the talk of bestsellers and falling in love–but you can just read the parts where AT is talking and ignore the insipid interviewer.

In other news, this is a good article about Ben Johnson. You will recall that he is the only Academy Award winner to have also been a Rodeo National Champion. Our mother was always a fan of Ben. I remember clearly her pointing him out to me the first time I saw Shane (1953). He played a cowboy named Chris who comes through in the end and does the right thing.

Reading this article inspired us to watch Junior Bonner (1972) which stars Steve McQueen along with Ben Johnson and Robert Preston.

I have always liked this movie because Steve seems very “real” in it. He has very few lines, but his character comes across in the same way Ben Johnson always does–as the genuine article.

We were able to watch this, because we could still use our DVD player even though our internet was down. Thanks be to God! I also watched several episodes of Miami Vice from season one (1984). This show is not so great as, say, NYPD Blue, but I still really enjoyed watching it. Such a nostalgic trip back to the 1980s! Those clothes and that hair! And Bruce Willis in a breakthrough role… (those pants!)

…Gina and Trudy, when not dressed as undercover prostitutes, wearing dirndl skirts and polo shirts…I looked just like Gina in 1984!

Yes, back when everyone had a waist. And, of course, there’s Don Johnson, the pride of Flat Creek, Missouri…

Give me an amen.