This is a blog post I wrote on my other website and am transferring it here.
Monday, August 31
Another month rushing down the drain, another thirty-one days I'll never see again. It's still above average these days and plenty hot, but before we know it we'll be complaining about how cold it is. And another weekend when Tiger couldn't quite get the job done. I and the commentators and the rest of the world watching the final holes on Sunday couldn't believe it when he missed a putt of 6'-3" that would have gotten him into a tie and a playoff. Whoa! Tiger just doesn't miss putts that short, with that much on the line. He looked as stunned as the rest of us when it went on by on the left edge. It just had to be a misread, because he doesn't mis-hit putts. I almost spelled it "mishit," which may have been more appropriate than "mis-hit." Lots of people are saying he's lost his magic, he's aging, he's losing his edge. Well, let's look at the year and this last tournament. He's won five times for the year, and in this one that he lost, placing second, he beat Furyk by five, Sergio by nine, Phil by twelve, and Vijay didn't even make the cut. If Tiger is losing his edge, what does that say about his closest rivals? Enough. Next week is another playoff toward the FedEx Cup. We'll see how many would bet against him winning that one, or the next two for that matter Tiger should have a lock on being the overall winner of the FedEx Cup.
We watched much of the funeral and burial of Ted Kennedy on Sunday. It was moving, but I couldn't help but think about all those other senators and representatives who will die in future years and not receive even a tenth of the attention given to Senator Kennedy. Hardly seems fair. Granted, he was a long-time senator with a long list of senatorial accomplishments. But he was not the greatest senator of all time, not even close. He was a Kennedy. I listened to the remarks of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick just before the casket was lowered. I think I heard him say something about the "elegies" given by grandson Ted Kennedy and President Obama at the funeral service. "Elegies?" If that's what he really said, then I wonder how a man who knew he was going to be heard by millions and millions of people viewing the telecast could have made such a grievous usage error. It's nearly as bad as the eight-year run of "newk-yuh-ler" from the mouth of George Bush.
Tuesday, September 1
We just saw Julie and Julia and enjoyed it thoroughly. Meryl Streep never ceases to amaze me and the rest of the viewing public. She just plain became Julia Child. You could almost hear the saliva dripping whenever she began to eat a new recipe. And Amy Adams was great as Julie, the blogger cook who tried all 524 recipes in the Child cookbook. What a delightfully fun way to spend an afternoon.
I just began the most recent book by James Lee Burke, Rain Gods, this time about a new set of characters instead of the usual Dave Robicheaux and company. And again, my jaw drops at some of his writing. I'm enough of a reader and old English teacher that I can spot good writing, great writing, when I see it. It isn't just the way he frames his sentences nor what he's saying nor the rhythms of his words. It's a combination of all of that. For example, the main character, Hackberry Holland, explains why he had to move out of his house, the home he had shared with his wife and children until her early death and the children's departure for their own lives. "The truth was, he could not rise in the morning from his bed surrounded by the things she had touched, the wind blowing the curtains, pressurizing the emptiness of the house, stressing the joists and studs and crossbeams and plaster walls against one another, filling the house with a level of silence that was like someone clapping cupped palms violently on his eardrums. He could not wake to these things and Rie's absence and the absence of his children, whom he still saw in his mind's eye as little boys, without concluding that a terrible theft had been perpetrated upon him and that it had left a lesion in his heart that would never heal." If I were explaining this to one of my English classes, I'd start with the structure, the way he builds on a very simple main clause and then drips the images thereafter. "The truth was . . . something." That's just a basic S-V-S pattern with the second S a noun s-v-o that forgot it's signal word "that." The structure of that noun s-v-o begins with "he could not rise" and then two adverbial 1-o's (prepositional phrases), the 4, "surrounded" (past participle), working with both the subject "he" as well as the verb "could not rise", then the "surrounded" modified by the adverb 1-o-o "by the things," with the "things" modified by the adjective s-v-o "she had touched" with the signal word "that" left out because it was acting simply as the object of the verb "had touched," then the very complicated set of words acting as the second object of "by." All right, we're now up to the sets of words led off by the "wind," which is acting as the s of the 3 (present participle) "blowing" and the object of "blowing" "the curtains." Then another 3 "pressurizing" and its object "emptiness" and the 1-o "of the house" modifying "emptiness." Then another 3 "stressing" and its objects "joists," "studs," crossbeams," and "walls" with the 1-o "against one another" working adverbially with "stressing." Then the final 3 in the series of 3's, all with the subject "wind," "filling" and its object "house," followed by the adverbial 1-o "with a level," then another 1-o "of silence" acting as an adjective to describe "level." And finally, the adjective s-v-o working with "silence" "that was like someone clapping cupped palms violently on his eardrums." Now how to explain the structure of this last thing? I guess I need to create a similar sentence to show it: The silence was similar to (or "like") someone clapping cupped palms on his eardrums. The structure of that sentence is an S-V-S (the silence was similar) and then a 1-o (to someone clapping palms), the object of the 1 being an s-3-o (a gerund with its own subject and its own o), and finally a 1-o "on his eardrums" adverbially modifying "clapping." Whew! Almost no one except for some of my very advanced English students would have any iedea what I just said. I'm not sure Burke knew what he was doing when he wrote that sentence, but his ear told him how to do it without needing to know if it was right or wrong. It's very very right.